Ever since the early civilization man has always discriminated fellow men on the basis of their color, age, gender among other many factors. In the United States of America, discrimination is more spread across the different race origins that the citizens bear.
The American population is made of people from different origins, for example, we have; the African American, Caucasians, Red Indians among others. Some races feeling superior to others have promoted discrimination for a very long period. One way through which this has been done is racial profiling (MacDonald 4).
When the color of your skin or the origin of your race is used by the law enforcing officers as a basis of suspicion of having committed particular crimes in general non suspect investigations then that can be described as racial profiling (Glaser 4). This discrimination which most of the times has been based on religion, race, ethnicity or any other special character that one may be identified with undermines the human rights and freedom of every American citizen.
It is a fact that law enforcement officers at all levels target people of certain races or ethnic groups most of the time as seen during traffic stops and inspection. For many years, Americans of African and Hispanic origins have complained of being victims of race profiling due to allegations of their likelihood of committing crimes compared to Americans of other races.
For example, allegations of racial profiling have been on the policemen who suspect African American shoppers of being petty thieves. Individuals have been subjected to racial profiling when walking or shopping, for instance, blacks are often stopped and questioned by cops if seen walking in an area assumed to be a white dominated region (Muffler 2). This has become a major issue in the United States of America some debating on its essence and why it should continue or it should stop and thus the need to look into the matter.
In the recent years it has become a major concern to everybody on racial profiling. Laws seeking to ban racial profiling have been introduced in the congress for example
Both S. 16(Daschle) and H.R 2364(Engel), (Laney 2), contains provisions relating to racial profiling. S.16 is an “omnibus civil rights bill, which includes provisions that would express a sense of the Senate that Congress enact legislation banning racial profiling and requiring law enforcement at the federal state and local levels to prevent the practice (Muffler 3).
The HR.2364 (Engel) aims to amend immigration and nationality act by establishing a Visa Fairness Commission to collect data on the ongoing racial profiling in the American Embassies and with the US border inspectors. The law enforcement departments have been accused of practicing racial profiling in their aim of controlling two vices: preventing the illicit drugs activities and containing terrorism threats.
Many Americans disapprove traffic stops but when terrorism investigations are the claims of making the stops, then the Americans have no problem in allowing the vice to continue. The fact that the bombings of September 2001 were carried by attackers of Arab origin, other Arab citizens living in the country whether innocent or guilty have been faced with adverse cases of racial profiling;
“50% Americans responding to a poll supported the laws requiring Arabs including those who are U.S. citizens to carry a special ID” (Muffler 6).
Another study carried in the country by the Opinion Dynamics showed that “54% of American citizens approved the use of racial profiling to screen Arab-male airline passengers. While in another carried by Cornell University “68% responded to racial profiling as a tool of fighting terrorism” (Muffler 6).
Thus, race profiling is within many American citizens and any bid to eliminate the vice is expected to face all sorts of challenges. While all the claims about Muslims and their relation to terrorism might be true, it is worthy noting that terrorists of Middle East (as they are usually faced with higher risks of racial profiling) background could have migrated to Germany, England or any other country and thus racial profiling by use of the geographical factors is also not bound to work.
The extent of racial profiling has been studied in some states, for example, in the Arizona Sentinel Investigation of all the vehicles which were stopped in the interstate highway in Florida, “While nearly 705 of the vehicles stopped belonged to the blacks and Hispanic, only a small 5% of the drivers were from the minor communities” (Muffler 7).
Racial profiling violates the individual constitutional rights as stated in the supreme constitution of the United States of America. The fourth amendment of the United States of America protects every American citizen against any unreasonable searches and seizures (Kops 72) while the Fifth Amendment protects against discrimination based on ethnicity, race or nation of origin as experienced in racial profiling cases (Rezmovic & Ekstrands 3).
The fourteenth amendment of the constitution goes further and protects all American citizens by ensuring that they are provided with equal security and protection by the country laws thus those practicing racial profiling should be made aware that the constitution bars them from doing so.
Racial profiling is in no doubt unjust as it favors one group of people over the other. It is both wrong and ineffective on those who uses and for those who are subjected to. That is why racial profiling should be banned whether in fighting drugs or terrorism. It is important to note that it is not a race or ethnicity which commits a crime rather it is an individual people who commits the crimes and thus judge the people individually and not linking a whole group to the acts.
Blacks have often been suspected of committing crimes more than other races thus faces more cases of racial profiling but the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) argues against racial profiling by stating that while blacks may be responsible for a higher percentage of crimes committed within an area it does not mean that majority of blacks population should be held responsible for the crimes.
Another case which makes racial profiling unjust is that certain communities are overly policed, unjustly scrutinized, and disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system while individually they might not have committed any crime.
These victims of racial profiling have their liberty interests taken from them. They are stopped, searched, arrested, subjected to unwarranted force, detained in custody and in the most extreme cases, shot, tortured or killed as a result of being ill-perceived as a serious threat” (Sandborn, Bahdi, & Parsons 2).
Racial profiling also promotes cynicism about law enforcement and the judicial system amongst members of communities who are subjected to racial profiling thus decreasing the probability of citizen co-operation with law enforcers for legitimate investigations.
The only claimed benefit to racial profiling is that the authorities are able to narrow their investigations down to certain characteristics within a certain race of a given suspect incase they have a reliable information connecting to a certain crime which was committed somewhere rather than stopping and questioning every individual who passes through a police check (Korobkin 24).
Increasing the available information to the police can be a solution towards eliminating or reducing cases of racial profiling in the United States of America. With adequate information the police can be able to monitor and pin point the hot spots where much police presence and patrols are needed. Laws and legislations passed against racial profiling has been a major incentive to the adoption of technology by most law enforcers in order to change their approaches towards traffic stops.
Once information is collected by the police for example about a crime committed somewhere and the details made public this creates a warning system to the people and incase the police may stop you according to the details already given in the public domain then no one will complain of discrimination or racial profiling.
However, this data should always be authenticated by the authorities to prevent chances of circulating the wrong information to the public thus making wrong traffic stops leading to increased racial profiling within the country.
By the police making the information public, this would allow them to announce what their plans are and it can help in building trust between the public and the police. To end racial profiling, the police departments should be made to release all the relevant information that can be meaningful to communities and target groups. This information should be aggregated according to the interest groups addressing the systemic problems while much information should be released according to the individual characteristics.
Engaging with the public is also another strategy through which the police can gather information from the public and this can help them in understanding how the community feels and what needs to be done to ensure cases of racial profiling are reduced. The rigid supervisory techniques used by the police should be dropped and a more respectful and participatory approach adopted by the police as they seek for information during traffic stops.
For those who supports racial profiling the following are the simple facts that they should note about racial profiling. Racial profiling can be used as a tool to distract law enforcers from gaining access information through better approaches, for example, the law enforcers should focus on the suspicious behaviors which should lead to arrests rather than basing their focus on race.
Racial profiling also prevents the cops from serving the entire community due to the fact that it sends a message that a certain race can be trusted more than the other and other races are viewed more as criminals than normal citizens.
This can lead to the less scrutinized race taking advantage of the situation and committing crime. Another weak factor about racial profiling is that it leads to communities and law enforcers not cooperating in containing crime in an area since the communities are already aware that the police are biased against them (Hunter 16).
More than often racial profiling is likely to lead to riots as reports of discrimination and torture of suspects goes round in the society the community is likely to riot against the practice. Finally, not only is racial profiling morally wrong but it is also against the supreme constitution of the United States of America, which under the 14th amendment states that people within the jurisdiction of the country should not be denied equal protection of the laws.
Glaser, Jack. “The Efficacy and Effect of Racial Profiling: A Mathematical Modeling Approach.” Goldman School of Public Policy University of California, Berkeley, 2003. Web. 4 Dec 2010
Hunter, David Jr. An Analysis of Racial Profiling and the Consequences of Profiling Based Upon Race. Michigan: University of Michigan-Flint Department of Public Safety. 2003.
Kops, Deborah. Racial Profiling, 21st Edition. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2006.
Korobkin, Daniel. “Racial Profiling: A New Challenge in Public Policy.” Public Policy Concentration Thesis, March 1, 2002. Web. 4 Dec 2010.
Laney, Garrine. “Racial Profiling: Issues and Federal Legislative Proposals and Options.” CRS Report for Congress, February 17, 2004. Web. 5 Dec 2010.
MacDonald, Heather. “The Myth of Racial Profiling.” The Manhattan Institute, 2001. Web. 5 Dec 2010.
Muffler, Stephen. Racial Profiling: Issues, Data and Analyses. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2006.
Rezmovic L Evi & Ekstrand E. Laurie. Racial Profiling: Limited Data On Available On Motorists Stop. New York: Diane Publishing, 2000.
Sandborn, Tom; Parsons Olanyi; & Bahdi Reem. “Racial Profiling Position Paper.” Civil Liberties Association, 2009. Web. 4 Dec 2010.