Racial Profiling v. Criminal Profiling

Criminal v. Racial: Profiling

Damian Anderson

Columbia College

Profiling has become an interesting subject in our culture as many investigations TV shows portray it as an advanced skill, where as officer’s use profiling every day on patrol. Shows like criminal minds, give audiences ideas of people in suits taking facts about crimes and devising a character profile, that may occur but profiling is actually a term defined as “any police-initiated action that uses a compilation” of characteristics in which a individual is likely to be or has been involved in a criminal activity (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).  The characteristics used in profiling include the following: background, physical features, behaviors, and motivations (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).  Other aspects involved in a law enforcement officer taking action involve reasonable suspicion, and probable cause. On the opposite end, racial profiling is action by an officer initiated based on the individual’s ethnic background, race, or skin tone, rather than behavior or information (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).

Though African Americans have predominantly a victim of racial profiling but since September 11, 2001, the day in which Islamic extremist crashed plans in New York City, Middle Eastern individual has suffer to such profiling. The proper method of profiling potential terrorist goes beyond skin tone, language and religion (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).  The characteristics that law enforcement do look for when profiling terrorist include: 1) young males, 2) primarily citizens of Saudi Arabia, 3) trained in fundamentalist religious camps, and 4) harboring deep hatred of western civilization and culture (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).

A large population of American may argue against the notion of racial profiling being a major issues, however their numbers which display the reality of such profiling.  Consider Kansas as an example. In 2015, four African American males were exonerated and released from jail for a crime they hadn’t committed (Wolferson). They were arrested when they were misidentified as perpetrators to an armed robbery during a night of mob violence in Louisville, KS (Wolferson, 2015). Since this occurred during mob violence the officer may have faced stress that impacted their decision making. The young men were identified by street witness with the use of a officer’s flashlight, and by doing so the officers violated several department policies (Wolferson, 2015). The young men also received $1.5 million from Metro Louisville (Wolferson, 2015). This article can be view at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/12/4-wrongfully-arrested-men-blame-profiling/70245960/.

Kansas University conducted a study regarding racial profiling and uncovered interesting statistics.  In regards to routine traffic stops, African American are 3 times as likely to be stopped compared to white drivers (Lee, 2013). The study also shown that African Americans, age 25 and younger, are nearly 30% more likely to be stopped for investigative reasons (Lee, 2013).  Some of these stops have been for the individual going a whopping 2 miles over the designated speed limit (Lee, 2015).

The state of Kansas is one of several states that have legislatures passed regarding the issue of racial profiling and it requires officers to record data with each traffic stop (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015). The statues of K.S.A. 22-4606 state that with the collection of data record must produce an annual report that include: number of racial based complaints receive and filed, the actions taken in accordance to those complaints, the disposition of each complaint, the date of the closing of each complaint, department’s policy prohibiting racial profiling and the disciplinary actions conducted, and whether the agency has an advisory board (racialprofilingwichitaks).  The fear does exist among communities that law enforcement agencies watering down policies due to amendments of lobbyists (racialprofilingwichitaks).

The lack trust between law enforcement officers and African American communities is due two things. The first is that the community victimized by the police due to racial profiling and the second is that they often don’t receive the support from law enforcement when needed. Therefore, there needs be a shift in perception. Many officers may engage in racial profiling unintentionally and further problem at hand. Generally, law enforcement agencies need practices to prevent racial profiling or just review their current policies, which include these seven area: 1) accountability and supervision, 2) agency policy to directly address the racial profiling, 3) recruitment and hiring, 4) education and training, 5) minority outreach programs, 6) professional traffics stops, and 7) data collection on citizen’s race and diversity (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).  Data collection has faced opposing arguments among agencies. One the favorable end data collection helps agencies: 1) determine whether racially based policing is a problem in the jurisdiction, 2) convey a commitment to unbiased policing, 3) “get ahead of the curve”, and 4) effectively allocate and manage department resources (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015). On the opposing side data collection: 1) does not yield valid information regarding the nature and event of racially biased policing, 2) could be used to harm the agency or its personnel, 3) may impact police productivity, morale, and workload, and 4) police resources might be used to combat racially biased policing and the perceptions thereof in more effective ways (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olsen, Harris, 2015).

While profiling has provided useful for law enforcement, problem arise that push the line of that method. The African  American community, as well as other minorities, has been haunted by the red and blue lights due to circumstances outside their control. Beyond skin tone, African American are stopped due to high rates of crimes in their neighborhoods, Mexican Americans are stopped due to large amount of illegal immigrants, and Middle Easterns are stopped because of previous acts of terrorism by their population. In order to combat any injustice in out community and culture is takes effort by those with power to correct their wrongs and education for the next phase of law enforcement.

Works Cited:

Shusta, Robert M., Levine, Deena R., Wong, Herbert Z., Olson, Aaron T., Harris, Philip R. (2015). Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society. (6th ed). Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Print.

Racial Profiling Wichita. (n.d) Kansas Racial Profiling State Law. Web. Retrieved from http://www.racialprofilingwichitaks.com/statutes.html

Lee, Royce. (2013). Kansas University Study Finds Racial Profiling Pervasive-and a Harm to Perceptions of Police. Chicago Bureau. Web. Retrieved from http://www.chicago-bureau.org/kansas-university-study-finds-racial-profiling-pervasive-and-a-harm-to-perceptions-of-police/

Wolfson, Andrew. (2015). 4 Wrongfully Arrested Men Blame Racial Profiling. USA Today. Web. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/12/4-wrongfully-arrested-men-blame-profiling/70245960/


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