The concern about racial profiling is erupting throughout the nation. Many cities and states have decided to study racial profiling, or how race and ethnicity may play a part in traffic stops by law enforcement in their jurisdictions. There seems to be a generally accepted understanding of what profiling is. Profiling is the law-enforcement practice of scrutinizing certain individuals based on characteristics thought to indicate a likelihood of criminal behavior. Yet, there are two variations concerning the application of racial profiling. Profiling either utilizes race as a sole means of directing police attention, or uses race as a part of a larger set of characteristics and behaviors that lead to police involvement (2011, pg. 75). Regardless of the definition of racial profiling, the debate over racial profiling centers on two questions. Does racial profiling actually occur? and Is racial profiling being used and is profiling a legitimate tool of law enforcement?
Generally, the announcement of a racial profiling study by police and/or other public officials typically includes a denial that racial profiling exists “within this jurisdiction,” but also an acknowledgment that it would be helpful to study the pattern of police stops within the jurisdiction (2012, pg. 3). The prevalence of racial profiling and understand that this practice descended from stigmas created during slavery to socially control African Americans. The very act of undertaking such a study reaffirms the general public policy goal that policing decisions should be race-neutral.
Purpose of Study
With such activity being conducted by law officials for well over 100 years, why is it only now that the issue of racial profiling is making large news within the mainstream media as well as in the sociological realm (2012, pg. 1)? I theorize five reasons behind the recent news that racial profiling is receiving. First, in recent years African-Americans have attained a social and economic status in sectors in which their voices are not so easily ignored. Second, the visual and reported evidences of occurrences of mistreatment toward blacks by police, although not traffic profiling cases, broaden the view of police activity to include profiling involved by traffic stops. Third, more and more individual African-Americans are filing complaints and taking harassment cases to higher authorities (courts). Fourth, more affluent and high social class status African-Americans are charging that they have been stopped merely because of their skin color. Fifth, more and more cases of racial profiling are being publicized and investigated by collective organizations such as the ACLU (American civil Liberties Union) and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) .
However, it also signals to law enforcement officers that extra caution may be needed to ensure that the data they collect while performing their duties should reflect a lack of bias in their own...