Racial profiling, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is using a race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. Most people are familiar with the tension in America today concerning law enforcement and racial profiling. This tension tends to be caused by the theory that the police force uses racial profiling to arrest people before crimes are committed. It is crucial to debate if there should be laws to prohibit racial profiling, or if this is the best course of action to keep our communities safe.
Imagine being a police officer and knowing that everyday there will be choices made that can affect someone’s life- this is a hefty responsibility. Law Enforcement must look at a potential threat and make a split-second decision that will either benefit people or potentially disrupt an innocent person. Given statistics that indicate African Americans commit more crimes when police officers are put in this position, it makes sense that law enforcement would have a pre-determined disposition to look at individuals that fall under this category. The Center for Equal Opportunity’s Roger Clegg states We have to recognize that it’s going to be tempting for the police and individuals to profile so long as a disproportionate amount of street crime is committed by African Americans. (Racial Profiling: Is) This indicates that people in the minority need to evaluate what they can do to become less of a suspect to police officers. Essentially, if the whole minority cannot control the rate in which they are committing crimes, then they should not be surprised that the law enforcement finds them to be suspect. According to Info Base Learning, more crimes are committed in urban cities (Racial Profiling: Is). Typically, these cities are mostly populated by minorities. More crimes are committed in urban cities- which illustrates the point that these crimes would be committed by people of color. There also tends to be more crime that happens within cities than out in suburban America. This presents more reason to look towards the people who live there than outside sources.
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The End Racial Profiling Act, otherwise known as ERPA, was introduced to Congress in 2015. (Conyers) This act is to fundamentally put the federal government into the issue by creating laws that protect people from being stopped because of the color of their skin. On one hand, this sounds great and makes it seem as if racism is being stopped in its tracks; however, that is not the case as most officers use racial profiling as an aid in addition to other key factors. These other factors include hours and hours of training to help police officers spot a threat. Inferences about a suspect must be connected before one just runs out and arrests someone because they are black. For example, if a man is black and appears to be holding a weapon there would be just cause to stop him. (Fauchon) Most, if not all of law enforcement, would agree with this above statement. This theory that racial profiling is for racist cops is incorrect and in fact insulting to minority police officers everywhere. A police officer would rather check on a gut instinct that a suspect has a weapon than be worried about appearing racist. This is a natural instinct of many officers and by putting restrictions on them with ERPA it would make it hard for officers to do their job without having a fear of losing it. Which would make it extremely difficult for anyone who serves people daily. Though there is more than one side to this argument.
While many believe that racial profiling is absolutely necessary, many believe that there is no room for it. There are arguments to be made saying that if police are targeting people based on their skin color, then they are racists and making assumptions that are not always supported with proof. Many suggest that targeting behavior is a better use of time than focusing on people with a skin color other than white. There could be many things that would be overlooked due to racial prejudice, which the United States Constitution clearly prohibits. Stated in the fourteenth amendment, people are guaranteed equal protection under the law to all citizens. Meaning everyone has the same rights, and there should not be one group who gets an exception to that. America is also founded on the belief that all are created equal. If this is true, racial profiling directly contradicts this. Racial profiling directly feeds into racism and this is an unacceptable practice to continue to allow. (Kowalski)
This idea of allowing racial profiling to continue also creates more tension between people of color and law enforcement. (“Racial Profiling: Is) There are many examples today of racially charged issues between the two groups. This creates this almost hatred between the two groups because of these examples. This can cause people of color to distrust the law enforcement- whose job is to protect them. As well as law enforcement to become more suspect of their actions. In both scenarios this creates a divide that would not be as evident if racial profiling did not. ERPA is needed to eliminate this policy of profiling. Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP president at the time, states that the policies to protect people of color is weak and hard to enforce. Overall, there needs to be some action to protect people who are not able to protect themselves because of racial prejudice.
Conyers, John. Text – H.R.1933 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): End Racial Profiling Act of 2015. Congress.gov, 15 May 2015, www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1933/text.
Fauchon, Christina. Counterpoint: The Case Against Profiling. International Social Science Review, vol. 79, 2004, Issue ??, pp.157-159. 3p.
Kowalski, Rev. Dr. James A. Everything Wrong With Racial Profiling. The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 June 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-james-a-kowalski/whats-wrong-with-racial-profiling_b_1440307.html.
Racial Profiling | Definition of Racial Profiling in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/racial_profiling.
“Racial Profiling: Is Racial Profiling a Necessary Police Practice?” Issues & Controversies, InfoBase Learning, 3 Sept. 2012, https://icof.infobaselearning.com/recordurl.aspx?ID=2480. Accessed 1 Sept. 2018.
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