The Racial Profiling Controversy

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Racial profiling is judging someone based on their race and/or ethnicity. During racial profiling, someone is suspecting that someone else is committing a crime based on these factors. This can happen throughout law enforcement. It could be another form of profiling if you look at someone and you do not suspect them because they are the same ethnicity as you. Also, if you believe that they are doing no wrong because of this. Racial profiling is very prevalent in today's society. It is heard about it all the time when you are watching the news, at the store, reading the paper, or in every day conversation. It is good for the public to be aware and cautious of the harms of racial profiling. Having law enforcement is important to society but it comes with its issues (Fridell, 2001). A documented example of racial profiling in the United States is Whren vs. United States. This example was a pretextual traffic stop (Feder, 2012). During this, motorists were charged with drug charges but were originally pulled over for traffic violations (Feder, 2012). The officers racially profiled the motorists and assumed they had drugs (Feder, 2012). Another example is Marshall vs. Columbia Lea Regional Hospital. In this example, the officer approached the claimant and accused him right away of being on drugs (Feder, 2012). The officer had a history of racially selective stops like this one (Feder,2012). The officer even cited the race of the claimant on the report filled which was not asked for (Feder, 2012).

There are good officers out there but there are some that are corrupt in this way. It is corrupt because this officer had a history of stopping the same race for no apparent reason but the one he made up. There was also no reason for him to put the race of the claimant on his report. The courts have also been controversial when it comes to racial profiling. The U.S. Court of Appeals determined that in Southern California you can't racially profile against Hispanic origin (Feder, 2012). They determined you can't take this into account during stops. A case example of this is United States vs. Montero-Camargo. The court, in this case, determined that demographic changes cannot be a reason for racial profiling (Feder, 2012). In other words, just because you are in a state near the border you cannot assume someone with a Mexican descent is doing something illegal. In United States v. Martin-Fuerte the courts ruled the federal drug enforcement was alright to racially profile because the characteristics of the people involved were risk factors (Feder, 2012). A driver at a border had to have a secondary inspection based on being Mexican. A good amount of secondary stops resulting in finding illegal aliens crossing the border which would further explain why the court ruled this alright. Some solutions to racial profiling would be to build trust in the community you are policing. Teach officers to not just go after someone in the community because of the color of their skin or what they look like in general.

You can also hold social events within the community where you play games with people from the community so you can build their trust. This could also build the officers trust in the community. Another option would be to just have classes teaching officers all throughout the country on racial profiling and why they should not just go after someone because you think they look suspicious based off of the color of their skin. You can teach officers that racial profiling is discrimination and it is not good for the criminal justice system. Basically, education and training are important factors in solving racial profiling (Fridell, 2001). Although I am not sure it is always ethical, there are cases where racial profiling is accepted. As previously stated in the case United States v. Martin-Fuerte the drug enforcement officers gave a secondary stop to a Mexican driver crossing a border based on being Mexican. If drug enforcement officers are not careful in which secondary stops they make then, they could be allowing illegal aliens into the country. This is a case where I understand racial profiling being accepted but I'm not sure it was ethically correct.

In April of 2018, there were a total of 50,308 people apprehended at the border (Daniels, 2018). The number of people apprehended at the border is up 37 percent since the month of February 2018 (Daniels, 2018). These statistics explain why the border officers have to be extra careful while profiling people at the border. Sometimes they are just doing their job but is it lawfully correct? In Ortega-Melendres v. Arpaio, which was another case of detainment based on racial characteristics, the court determined it not alright for a person to be detained based on believing the person is in the United States illegally (Feder, 2012). Back in 2015, agents at airports and borders were exempt from the Obamas administrations racial profiling guidelines (Profiling, 2014). Racial profiling can be a controversial subject in today's society. In most cases, racial profiling is a negative thing. It can be determined okay in outcomes such as in the case United States v. Martin-Fuerte where he racially profiled the people at the border. It turned out that they ended up actually being illegal aliens and this shows how controversial this subject really is. Everyone in the community should be aware of racial profiling, especially officers. They should be taught ways to avoid it and when it might be necessary.

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The Racial Profiling Controversy. (2019, Dec 09). Retrieved April 16, 2024 , from

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