Police Misconduct



American Civil Liberties Union defines racial profiling as “discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin”. Race is “ defined as referring to major biological divisions of people form the world” ( Kats and Walker. 390). While Ethnicity “ refers to the culture differences, such as language, religion, family, and foodways”( 390). Using these definitions the range in which profiling a person or group is unlimited. Meaning a police officer can use your name, the color of your skin, the way to talk for any reason. Profiling allows the police to use race to help determine if they will stop a car, check a bag at the store, or frisk a person on the street. While using race alone to decide if a crime has been committed is illegal in most states officers must find another reason to make a arrest or to give a ticket. Most racial profiling can be seen that major drug crimes are committed by minorities. Maybe that why gap that has formed between white cops, blacks and Hispanic population is a two way steam. Most minority groups have been influenced to dislike police officers.  For example a survey taken in 1997 shows that 42 percent of Hispanics and 33 percent of blacks have respect for the police.  The question remains is it right for  law enforcements officials to use profiling. One argument is that racial profiling helps crackdown on crime and drug trafficking.

            Looking at the history of America it shows that racial profiling as always been apart of our society. During the slaver era African-Americans where to care Free Persons of color cards to help white people know if they where free, and the name  of the person. Much like a driver license today. One of the major ears of climax was during the Civil Rights Movement. Where the  deadly forces ratio was eight to one, for every black man to one white person.  Also the past has shown us that the majority of the crimes occur in low income neighborhoods. And most of the people that live in those environments are Hispanics and African-Americans, who have grown up to believe that police officers will arrest, beat, and hurt them for any reason.  For example in the 90’s Robert Wilkins was pulled over by a Maryland police officer who asked if he could search his car. Wilkins benign a Harvard law school graduate knew that with out a warrant he had  no right. Yet the police officer made the family wait until a drug dog could come. Afterward gave Robert a 105 dollar fine. Letter Wilkins filled a lawsuit against the police department which became know nation wide as Wilkins v. Maryland. This is only one example of a overly blown traffic stops against American-Americans.

During the 1990’s, activists, community groups, and civil rights organizations were striving to combat the issue of racial profiling, as it became prevalent knowledge through high-profile events that it was occurring more often than people were aware. In early June 1999, President Bill Clinton spoke at the Strengthening Police-Community Relations conference in Washington, D.C., and directed federal agencies to begin the process of collecting data on the race and ethnicity of persons stopped or searched by federal agents (Data Collection Resource Center, 2008). In 1999 and 2000, the national American Civil Liberties Union launched a racial profiling project that worked in conjunction with local, state, and other national organizations to pass anti-racial profiling and data collection legislation. This resulted in a blossoming of these laws in many states during 2000 and 2001, including Texas and Missouri, which are considered amongst the strongest laws in the country (Applied Research Center, 2006). The trend of passing anti-racial profiling and data collection laws continues, and presently 28 states have laws that ban racial profiling and/or mandate data collection on police stops (Applied Research Center, 2006). Yet in 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a special report on the contacts of police and the public. The report revealed that “in both 2002 and 2005, white, black, and Hispanic drivers were stopped by police at similar rates, while blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be searched by police”  and further that “black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested” (Durose, Smith, & Langan, 2007). The report also concluded that “in both 2002 and 2005, blacks and Hispanics experienced police use of force at higher rates than whites. Of persons who had force used against them in 2005, an estimated 83% felt the force was excessive” (Durose, Smith, & Langan, 2007). The report goes on to say that “in 2005 black (9.5%) and Hispanic (8.8%) motorists stopped by police were searched at higher rates than whites (3.6%). The likelihood of experiencing a search did not change for whites, blacks, or Hispanics from 2002 to 2005” (Durose, Smith, & Langan, 2007). The report indicates that even with the laws, data collection statistics still reveal that racial profiling may still be occurring.

            Data collection is working, but only telling a partial story; this most recent decade has allowed for new strategies to emerge in combating racial profiling.  The Promote Cooperative Strategies to Reduce Racial Profiling (PCSRRP) has taken the initiative to help implement strategies all over the country. They have identified that “ensuring the accountability of individual officers or groups of officers through an early intervention system (EIS) has been identified as a positive strategy” and goes on to explain that “early intervention is a data-driven management process that allows managers to identify officers who have recurring problematic behavior and to intervene through counseling and additional training” (McDevitt, Farrell, & Wolff, 2008). Next PCSRRP explains that through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, police departments should exercise their right to recruit and hire police officers of all races because “recruiting and hiring a police force that represents the community which it serves has been recognized as a strategy that helps reduce racial profiling by conveying a sense of equity in departmental practices and increasing understanding between the police and members of diverse communities” (McDevitt, Farrell, & Wolff, 2008). This approach can help reduce mistrust between the police and minorities of the community.  This mistrust can also be handled by “engaging minority communities in ways that give voice and input in departmental decision making on policy or other important initiatives, establish ongoing and meaningful opportunities for dialog between communities and law enforcement, and provide communities with current information on issues of importance to them” (McDevitt, Farrell, & Wolff, 2008). Using their stance towards community-policing, PCSRRP believes that all of these strategies can only be enhanced through new technologies and information sources to answer the call for performance measurement, problem solving, and accountability (McDevitt, Farrell, & Wolff, 2008). Most importantly, PCSRRP believes that through training of police officers, all of these strategies can be tied together because “training is necessary for these new rules to be inculcated and followed and officers [can] avoid using racial, ethnic, or gender characteristics when making traffic stops to help prevent not only the actual practice, but the perception of this practice, by members of the community” (McDevitt, Farrell, & Wolff, 2008).

            Case studies have occurred throughout the United States to establish the potential benefits and limitations to these strategies. What has been certainly concluded is that multiple strategies must be combined if the country would ever like to see racial profiling successfully prevented and decreased.




Many people do not know what racial profiling is, even thought we may see or even be a victim of racial profiling. The definition of Racial Profiling is as followed. Racial profiling occurs when race is used by law enforcement or private security officials, to any degree, as a basis for criminal suspicion in non-suspect specific investigations. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, and nationality or on any other particular identity undermines the basic human rights and freedoms to which every person is entitled. As we all may know racial profiling comes in different forms. Some may occur more often than others. Its not only officers that uses racial profiling we the people do as well.

            A Motor vehicle search can be a possible application of racial profiling. In the United States black drivers are much more likely to have their car stopped and searched than white drivers or any other race. One explanation for this observation is that police officers have a racist preference, making them more likely to search a car driven by a black motorist. An alternative explanation is that police officers target not race but certain characteristics that are only correlated with race. This is also related to the hypothesis that police officers have no racial preferences and only maximize the probability of a successful search. If black motorists are more likely to carry contraband or illegal drugs, racial profiling may lead to a higher probability of successful searches.

            We all know that this is wrong because not all black people are this way. The black race in general should not be placed in the all blacks are “bad” or “criminals” category. It’s not fair to the black people that are trying to do something with their life. We also may know that any other race can be guilty of carry contraband or illegal drugs as well. After all we are all human right? And because we are all humans, I feel that race should never be considered for any reason in a police action. It needs to cist. Race should never be considered the primary or motivating factor for suspicion to be pulled over or arrested under mo circumstances. 

Race should only be considered when it is used to describe a specific suspect in a specific crime and only when used in a manner like other physical descriptions (e.g., hair color, weight, distinguishing marks). This is often referred to as the "be on the lookout" (B.O.L.O.)

Even thought people may feel that race could be helpful, uses of it may cause many more errors where the actual offender happened not to fit the race predicted by the model and law enforcement fails to capture the suspect.

Here In the United States, the government does not have the right to conduct searches or anything based solely on racial profiling. The 4th amendment of the U.S. constitution guarantees the right to be safe from “unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause.” Since the majority of people of all races are law-abiding citizens, merely being of a race, which a police officer believes to be more likely, to commit a crime than another is not probable cause. In addition to that the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that “ALL citizens be treated equally under the law.” It has been argued that this makes it unconstitutional for a representative of the government to make decisions based on race. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Batson v. Kentucky case and many others has upheld this view.