Racial profiling is a continuous, concerning problem in the
United States of America. It occurs on a daily basis, in cities and states all
over the country. Police officers tend to apply racial profiling by
relying solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin
to associate that individual with committing a crime. This practice can
be used to determine who to stop for minor traffic violations, also referred to
as “driving black”, or which individuals to search for illegal contraband based
off of their race without evidence that they have actually committed or been
involved in a criminal activity, as well as which individuals to administer the
use-of-force against. Racial profiling is a troubling, illegal violation
of the United States of America’s Constitution that promises in the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment “equal protection under the law to all” and “freedom of
unreasonable searches and seizures.”

            A change, or reform needs
to be put in place. Many reform suggestions were stated in the
literature used to support my stance on this issue. Dunn suggested there be
traffic stop data collection forms which should be completed by the police
officers after each traffic stop, whether or not a ticket was given.
This will be in order to determine whether racial of ethnic disparities exist
in the patterns of the traffic stops of the police officer. As
well as,
conducting a
traffic census of the population of drivers eligible to be stopped or ticketed
within certain geographic areas. This method will show potential problems with racial biased
policing in particular areas under supervision. (Dunn, 2016) Warren
and Tomaskovic-Devey suggest that both the amount of media coverage and
legislative activity have an influence on officers’ racial profiling.
Therefore, a federal proposal should be introduced to exemplify national
legislative possibilities. Introducing a national bill can cause police
officers to realize they are under scrutiny and it will drastically improve
their performance rates as well as decrease racial profiling. Both
federal and state bills can send a message to police on issues of concern by
the public even if they do not pass.
(Harris, 2009)

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            Lastly, Alpert, Dunham and
Smith believed the best way to assure the officers are being fair, legal and just
as well as reduce the reality or perception of racial profiling is through, “police
departments having clear policies and directives explaining the proper use of
race in decision making. Additionally, police officers must be trained and
educated in the overall impact of using race as a factor in deciding how to
respond to an individual. Third, the department must maintain a
data-collection and analysis system to monitor the activities of their police officers
as it applies to the race of the citizen. The fourth suggestion
involves the use of record checks of police officers that can set in motion a
process that results in the detention and arrest of citizens. Lastly,
the completion of a record of interrogation for later intelligence has
implications for the citizen. The use of this intelligence tool must depend
on suspicion of criminal activity rather than on the race or ethnicity of the
citizen.” (Alpert et al., 2005)

I believe the best way to reform
this problem is a mixture of all of these great suggestions written by the
previous researchers. To decrease, and eventually put a halt to racial
profiling I believe that the first step to be taken is to tackle the problem
with new police officers in the academy. The laws, morals and
expectations of their job should be imprinted in their head. They
should be trained well and educated on their moral obligations. Next,
I believe that supervisors should maintain data for every police officer of
each citizen they pull over. Their race, the reason for the stop, and whether
a warning or a ticket was given should be reported. As well constantly
checking the camera on each officers uniform that records each stop to ensure
their reliability and so the officers are aware that their supervisors can
monitor the activities at any time. Many citizens believe that police officers
can do anything they want and get it away with it, which is why racial
profiling is as commas as it is. To ensure that this is not the case, police
departments should implement a policy that threatens either suspension or loss
of job if the officer is not up to par with their job performance. A
viable option could be to create benchmarks for independent officers to
identify those detaining unreasonably more minority drivers than their peers.

Lastly, I believe the more
effective reform for racial profiling would be to bring more media attention to
the issue and introduce a legislative bill such as what Warren and
Tomaskovic-Devey suggested, something similar to the passage of the Senate Bill
76, but instead of an individual state, introduce it nationally, which will “require the
collection and correlation of data on traffic stops by state officers, which
include the race of the driver, whether and on what legal basis the officer
performed a search, whether the search turned up contraband, and whether an
arrest resulted.” (Harris, 2009)

Recent overviews of the literature suggest that
there is a disproportionality between the rates of traffic stops and searches
amongst Caucasians and individuals of color, as well as treatment by an officer
post-stop. The high racial disparities found in non-moving traffic
violations, such as, driving with a suspended license or without wearing a
seatbelt, among African Americans in the cities of Cleveland and Shaker, offenses
that are normally detected through electronic surveillance or once a traffic
stop has already been made, are consistent with researchers Ponder and Meehan’s
conclusion that, “officers must be ‘searching’ for, or obviously noticing,
African American drivers.” (Dunn, 2016)

            Next, Warren and
Tomaskovic-Devey’s research proves to reform advocates that it is possible to
reform racial profiling by effectively and purposefully using the media to draw
attention to the problem, and by working to convince the legislature to act on
producing a bill to decrease and eventually put a halt to racial profiling. Warren
and Tomaskovic-Devey reviewed data from a study of traffic stops and searches
on the state of North Carolina highways. “Warren and
Tomaskovic-Devey looked at the incidence of searches of African American drivers
relative to the popularity of media coverage of racial profiling and reviewed
this activity against the backdrop of legislative action in North Carolina to
attempt to determine whether the enactment of anti-profiling legislation
influenced police searches of African Americans. The authors then combined
the two public reactions to police activity, media coverage and legislative
activity into “the politics” of racial profiling.” (Harris, 2009)

North Carolina passed a law on racial profiling
named Senate Bill 76. The law required the correlation and retrieval of
data on traffic stops done by the officers of the state of North Carolina which
consisted of the race
of the driver stopped, whether and on what legal basis the officer performed a
search, whether the search turned up contraband, and whether an arrest resulted. The
Bill brought down all searches, and “significantly reduced the probability of a
consent search”. The rate of success police had in finding illegal
contraband as well as making arrests after searching an individual increased as
well because they
focused more on who presented real suspicious behavioral clues which indicated
potential criminal activity rather than those who just fit a racial or ethnic
profile.

            In addition to racial
profiling being the likely cause of an unnecessary stop, studies also show that
an individuals race can also impact an officer’s use of force post-stop. In
an article written by researchers, Kahn, Steele, McMahon, and Stewert, use-of-force
case files were selected from a sample of 212 available incidents occurring
during 2012 from a metropolitan police department on the West Coast. The
different cases were chosen from a primarily Caucasian city, with minorities
making up a slim percentage of the total population. All of the cases involved the
police officer using force at some point during the interaction, producing the
report.

 “The sample of
the study contained 139 cases consisting of 62 Caucasian, 42 African American,
and 35 Latino suspects. The results showed that both African American and
Latino suspects received higher levels of police force earlier in interactions,
where Caucasian suspects escalated in force at a more significant rate after
the initial force levels compared with racial minorities. Racial disparities
were also highlighted in officers’ reactions to the level of suspects’
resistance. When African American and Latino suspects resisted, they
received significantly more force than when Caucasian suspects resisted.
Results from the current study highlight how suspect race differentially
changes and shapes an interaction between law enforcement officers and suspects.”
(Kahn, K.B, Steele, J.S, McMahon, J.M, Stewert, G, 2017) 

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