Sunday, January 10, 2010

Racial Profiling Real or Percieved?


ABSTRACT: Racial Profiling still remains a problem in American society today, and seems to be a practice amongst our peace keepers/ law enforcement personnel throughout this country. The need for a higher level or training, legislation and leadership will be required in order to alleviate this ongoing practice going forward.

In spite of the appeals process, courts system, and the legislative laws of our society, as evidenced above the definition of Racial Profiling is incongruent amongst law enforcement channels in America. As a result, the interpretation of proper procedures relative to Racial Profiling is left up to the discretion of the officers on the streets. These “Street Level Bureaucrats” are given the power to interpret, enforce, and in most case become the absolute final judge relative to a person receiving the full benefits of the laws that were intended to protect society.

The term “Driving while black” (or brown) still exists today. The factual based data cited in the source (, states that blacks are six times more likely to get stopped and have their vehicles searched than whites is evidence of the racial based subjectivity being levied by our nation’s officers.

There are still officers throughout law enforcement channels who feel the oath to “Protect and serve” doesn’t apply to blacks or other people of color. They feel the oath should be used to “control” the ethnic population in order to deter the inevitable; criminal intent (Reginald Lyles- Law Enforcement Consultant on sensitivity “Best Practices”, special sensitivity consultant for BART Police Department/post Mehserle incident, former Captain of Novato Police Department- 30 years).

Additionally, in contemporary environments many police officers operate with a certain level of fear and distrust regarding ethnic individuals’ especially black, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern males. Their lack of intimate understanding of the cultural and psychological attitudes and characteristics serves to limit their perspective to enable them to reach an alternative perspective from their own.

The real challenge with this attitude is, authorities don’t have a way to clear and concise mechanism to uncover those hidden feelings. Even some of the personality tests that are given in the pre-hiring screening process don’t necessarily uncover these survival instincts that evolve when that officer is placed in a compromising situation.

Administrators have to take additional measures to ensure that our officers have been trained, prepared and equipped with enough social morays to effectively administer fair and descent policing practices within our communities. The reality has demonstrated that there still exists a sensitivity gap that is either real or perceived by society that constantly finds our police officers on the wrong end of a civil law suit.

The key argument is that profiling enables law enforcement authorities to screen effectively and succinctly towards people or sectors that are more likely than others to have a proclivity for criminal activity. But there hasn’t been any empirical proof that Racial Profiling or Profiling has been an effective tool for deterring criminal behavior.

The reality is profiling isn’t just indigenous to just certain races. When an officer sees a person that appears out of place in the environment where their being detained for example a white man standing or resting in an deep inner-city neighborhood, or a tattooed biker tooling through a well known upscale neighborhood, aspects of racial profiling are considered justified by law officials because the person was looking suspicious and therefore provided probable cause to be questioned.

Officers are given the oath to protect & serve the citizens of community, provided a set of laws and empowered to enact those laws within the purview of their own individual discretion. Law enforcement official’s biggest challenge comes in the area of changing regarding discretionary techniques. Is that sufficient enough to best prepare our officers?

Training depth is left up to the discretion of the training officer who’s own particular paradigms dictate how much of the un-mandated subject matter gets interjected into the training session. Cognitive Orientation identifies that people’s ideologies frames is central to their approach to power. In the certain instances a person with a radical perspective will frame society in a class or race which focuses on Marist doctrine of unequal distribution of power in society (Morgan, 1986, p.186).

The paradigm requirement of the new Peacekeeper must better educated, possess a broader prospective about our ever increasing diverse society; unlike the myopic views historically displayed by many within the law enforcement community.

These officers must be better trained in social matters, with a heavy skew towards contextual critical thinking and best practices case study examples. The new Peacekeeper must possess leadership skills which are employed in helping create an environment of peer influences towards “best practices” police work. They must be empowered to uphold the self-policing mechanism through an un-retaliatory procedure that accomplishes rooting out the Rogue Cop, and helps to maintain the proper image and expectations of society’s police.

Police officers have to develop a renewed sense of pride for their work. The natural perception by most outsiders is that a police officer is special and proud for placing themselves in harms way on behalf of protecting the citizens of society.

Admittedly, not everyone has the intestinal fortitude to become a police officer, however, because of the Rogue Officer; the law enforcement profession has developed a bad reputation within society. Ironically, society has essentially enacted the same type of profiling about police officers, by essentially pre-judging police officers as being all the same relative to their propensity to behave in a prejudicial manner. Only law enforcement stakeholders can effectively change this dynamic.

The values of constructive conflict resolution reflects some basis values, to which people are profoundly divided by reasonable philosophical and moral values doctrines can adhere (Rawls, 1996,-P. xxxix). A reasonable doctrine in the case of racial profiling is the acceptance that police are there to provide protection all citizens of the land, and such protection requires a certain amount of scrutiny in order to ensure everyone’s safety including the officers.

The people need to cognizant of the difficulty that law enforcement personnel face in their daily work that involves extreme danger and a natural instinct of human beings is to protect themselves from harm. Therefore there are times when they are forced to make instinctual decisions that aren’t necessarily a personal indictment on ones character or status but merely an interjection of the full extent of the officer’s paradigm in handling conflict.


I just wanted to comment on your abstract. I have recently done quite a bit of research on the topic of "driving while black." I feel that it is unfair to say that it is a reality and occurring all over our nation. In my findings, I found that the majority of cities and rural areas had proportional stoppages in comparison to their population. I am not the only to find this to be the case either. All of my research came from other professional’s studies. I also interviewed numerous people in law enforcement from different agencies and positions. Everyone agreed that racial profiling is a horrific injustice and is hardly ever the case. I will not argue that it never happens because I too believe that there are a few bad apples out there that do this. What seemed to more prevalent was criminal profiling, in which certain characteristics of the vehicles or mannerisms of the driver and passengers are displaying. If you have not noticed, I feel very strongly about this topic. I think that is very unfair to suspect that racial profiling is running rampant among law enforcement agencies.



I guess the research and interviews we both conducted have varying points of view. First I never used the word "rampant". I stated that it's still an issue. I'll assume that you agree with this statement.

Furthermore, your opinion, the research that you said that you've conducted and the people that you've interviewed are perfect examples of why Racial Profiling still exists, because you ALL dismiss the actions of these officers as "isolated incidences", or to use your term "bad apples". No! The problem is systemic. If two out of the past three Presidents have had to get involved with the matter as a matter of public interest, I think that its a bit more than one isolated incident after another.

I take it that you're not a member of any of the ethnic races that are 6 times more likely to get pulled over than someone like yourself. So from a practical matter, you can conduct all the research you want with people whom you feel are subject matter experts, but unless they're victims then they don't have a legitimate say in what really is going on. I can probably deduce that if they are subject matter experts and make a statement that Racial Profiling only exists in certain rural areas, and in the same sentence of use the word "stoppage" then they probably are the perpetrators of the act.

I think that just like in the health care debate you'd better start talking to those people who are affected by the problem to gain real facts. We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Case closed!

1 comment:

  1. Gregory,
    I am so glad you did this topic! Currently I'm completing a degree in Criminal Justice and have learned that laws are created to protect Anglo women and children. I encourage your readers to go back in time and review the history of laws and police roles as far back as the late 1800's. From the Opium den's of the Chinese to "Killer Weed" from the Mexicans, Prohibiton against the Irish and our current drug law's. They all play in together.