The current practice of racial profiling has been used significantly all around the world for centuries, demonstrating the need for control and monitoring to prevent and incite change. Gathering facts, statistics, and stories from the local news will further explain why racial profiling needs to be put to an end. Some issues that have occurred as a result of racial profiling would include unreasonable search and seizures, stop and frisk, and their impacts. Implementing guidelines to control racial profiling and creating new policies/programs could help reduce or even eliminate racial profiling. Pundik states “that racial profiling is offensive even if statistically reliable, adding that profiling methods stigmatize not only the profiled individual but also the entire profiled group, most of which is law-abiding”, meaning that it also reveals how ineffective it really is and how it puts a strain to the relationship between those racially profiled and the police. Racial profiling needs attention because it targets specific individuals or groups based on the color of their skin or appearance, it is discriminatory, and an illegal practice used in the United States.
Targeting minorities in public based on their race can have a significant, negative effect on the way people interact with the police. It creates doubt and mistrust among the community because they are doubtful they can rely on them to treat them fairly as innocent bystanders rather than criminals. It is important to understand that racial profiling happens every day in all parts of the world and to educate on the impacts of how racial profiling affects the way minorities interact with law enforcement and how they are perceived in a low-income ethnic community. Reiman (2010) explains that for law enforcement “racial profiling is justifiable on utilitarian grounds because its ‘costs may well be outweighed by its benefits in reducing crime and attendant benefits that it brings, such as economic activity in a community.’’ This is viewed in a negative way through the perspective of those who are being targeted, which needs to be changed in order to gain back trust and to regain the relationship the police once had with minority low-income communities.
The purpose, the purpose is to protect and serve their community to make it as safe as they can for those living in that particular area they are assigned. Nonetheless, what happens when members of the community lose trust and are afraid whenever they encounter law enforcement? A 2008 report written by the National Urban League, which investigated the realities that were faced by black citizens had uncovered some brutal statistics. “They found that there is still indisputable evidence that the criminal justice system is pitted against young black men, and systematically criminalizes them” 5 League for the Fifth International (2008). The diagram in the article depicted how unbalanced the incarceration population can be. That the U.S census data in 2000 indicates that blacks make up 12.3 percent of the U.S population, while the Department of Justice statistics indicate that roughly 40% of all prison inmates are African American. The figure shows that racial profiling leads to more arrests of minorities because they are unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
Although law enforcement may unintentionally make a traffic stop resulting in an unlawful search based on those by appearance and skin color, it is an illegal practice still used today in the United States. To be able to prevent racial profiling, people need to be educated when it comes to police using minorities to racial profile and conduct illegal searches based on what they look like. Kaufman and Lundman (2003) explain that studies show that “Extant studies of traffic stops for Driving While Black appears to indicate that police stop, African-American drivers, more often than would be expected on the basis of population baselines.” This study shown was done in San Diego, where 8% of the population is African American, and how it is showing a higher percentage of those involved with traffic stops. I think that if raising awareness annually to communities throughout the United States that racial profiling and unjustifiable targeting against groups, or people of color are discriminated by their appearance and looks needs to be stopped and be widely discussed in order to see a change.
Also, looking further into the practice of racial profiling used on minorities by law enforcement, for example, shows multiple testimonies of different law enforcement positions around the country admitting that they have stopped minorities on highways, freeways, and in communities more often than non-colored people. This article also includes techniques the police use that leads to being pulled over such as stop and frisking, the concept of driving while black and other factors that lead to being pulled over as a minority. The article from Anderson-William and Callahan-Gene (2001) shows statistics from a report by Chad Thevenot stating “76 percent of vehicle motorists stopped along a 50-mile stretch of I-95 by Maryland’s Special Traffic Interdiction Force (STIF) were of colored people”. This study can expose if law enforcement agencies use “racial profiling” on populations with larger amounts of different races and ethnicities to target minorities resulting in stopping and searching them and their vehicles. Researchers can obtain better information on racial profiling based on their race and ethnicity and how it might affect the way the community interacts with the police but would be beneficial to know, understand and something that could be reduced drastically.
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The new policies and programs that would be implemented throughout the United States of all communities would be a policy where a new system of policing would occur where racial profiling, and unreasonable searches and seizures, and the prevention of unwarranted stop and frisks would be the main priority to decrease any rifts between the communities and law enforcement. Pickerill (2009) explains, “The constitutional-civil libertarian view argues that disparities in search rates of White and minority motorists are morally unacceptable and constitutionally impermissible under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”. Another solution for defeating and reducing the racial profiling of minorities is to hire an equal amount of women and ethnically diverse groups of police officers to the Caucasian police officers that are currently employed in each agency to have a balance in the department. Having more of a diverse group of police officers in the department would significantly be beneficial to the community and its surrounding areas that would help those people in the communities relate more with law enforcement especially, in the big cities where most of these types of problems occur. Also, having a more diverse police population would decrease the likelihood of having any sort of racial profiling issue due to the different ethnic backgrounds and genders that would be hired in the community police department. Assuming that racial profiling is more of an underlying issue would they require all agencies to have a body camera recording everything they do on their daily shifts and to also assign them a partner of a different ethnicity to decrease any racial profiling matter.
Another solution on controlling and reducing racial profiling would create programs that will encourage the community, who feels threatened and scared by their local police officers, to get to know one another in a sociable environment. Lever (2015) states an interesting point, “Profiling increases the likelihood that whites will think of blacks as importing crime into their supposedly crime-free neighborhoods; it discourages black people from traveling and working in white neighborhoods, especially at night.” Programs that let the community and children of the community get to know the local law enforcement and to be able to teach them about how the police are there for their protection and to de-stigmatize the way the community views law enforcement and to be able to get to know one another and build strong forms of relationship would be beneficial in reducing and controlling types of racial profiling.
These types of programs would be beneficial to have because they would be forming strong connections between the local community and law enforcement. Another example that would help communities trust and get to know local law enforcement is having a Shop with a Cop program that uses fundraisers to generate money to take a predetermined amount of children to Wal-Mart where they are assigned an officer to take them shopping using donations from the community. The children are given a specified amount of money they are able to spend on their family for Christmas presents then taken to lunch all funded by community donations. The law enforcement would create a special bond between the children and the community while also building a relationship with the officers of the city. The program has received positive feedback from the community through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter. Coffee with Cops is another program where law enforcement will go to a local coffee shop during early morning hours and enjoy a cup of coffee with patrons. Officers talk to locals in a relaxed atmosphere where citizens feel more comfortable expressing officer concerns they may have regarding crime, traffic, or even officers. They often talk ask about crime trends, compliment staff or even just talk about sports or whatever is on their mind. It is just another extension of how law enforcement is reinforcing positivity within their community. The goals of community policing are to perform many community duties such as keeping the peace, handling emergency services, sorting out family and spousal issues, and helping with civil issues. Officers can be more effective if they are familiar with the area they are patrolling, and their area’s culture. If citizens are comfortable and are familiar with their designated officer it can make diffusing tense situations easier. Community policing cannot only make neighborhoods safer for their residents, but also for an officer. Having created these types of programs would be beneficial in creating a safer environment for everybody in the community and in the future. These policies and programs are being used to communicate through transparency by controlling racial profiling through specific set standards and to also create annual events with the youth and the local communities to show that law enforcement is not their enemy and they are there to protect and serve their community.
Lastly, as a community, we need to hold police officers and any trusted government officials accountable for their actions. Consequences need to be put into action to create a more positive environment for the community. If they take the oath to serve the community, that needs to be their priority without bringing bias to their job. Everybody needs to be treated equally no matter race, gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual preference. Police officers need to be held to a higher standard in order to create a long-standing relationship with the community. By putting these solutions in place, we can work together to keep the places we love protected and content.
My opinion is that communication between the public and law enforcement is heavily impacted when there is no bond between the two present. Nowadays, there is a wariness to cooperate with law enforcement because there are such negative opinions surrounding them. Detrimental experiences and negative media also contribute to the receptiveness of police officers. Minorities still feel that the local authorities abuse their power and treat white people more fairly because they are not racially profiled. If the public and law enforcement can work cohesively, we can be an unstoppable force in the fight to create safer neighborhoods for our future generations. It is imperative that law enforcement agencies embrace transparency when dealing with the public in a culture where social media is so powerful. Racially profiling proves to be a huge problem in this country that is leading to a racial division causing communication between authority and society to decrease exponentially.