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Why Racial Profiling Is Acceptable Essay

1059 words - 4 pages

Racial profiling can be an acceptable practice and a necessary tool if it is used by the police or any other law enforcement in the name of stopping crime or apprehending criminals. It can be a tool, and if used properly it can be effective, it can be seen as a necessary evil that sometimes must be used in the pursuit of justice. It is not acceptable if it is used to target a specific race or ethnic group for the sole purpose of harassment. The issue of racial profiling is a controversial one and it always has been. The United States is a country that is obsessed by race issues. There have been numerous highly publicized incidents in the past several decades that can be directly linked to suspected racism and racial profiling. Some examples of these types of cases are the Rodney King incident and the cases of Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima. These cases may have been extreme but they helped bring to light some of the problems that racial profiling and racism can cause in the criminal justice system. Racism is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." (Merriam-Webster Online) Many people in America believe that this animosity towards people of different ethnic backgrounds greatly effects the lives of those minorities. The criminal justice system is probably one the areas of American life where accusations of racial profiling and perceptions of racial bias have the greatest impact.Until September 11, 2001 the major complaint of racial profiling had to do with white police officers using race as the sole reason for stopping suspected offenders. Most of the complaints dealt with white police officers unfairly and illegally targeting young black males. These complaints and several lawsuits prompted some police agencies to conduct studies on racial profiling. One such study was conducted on stops made by the Maryland State Police. According to Buerger, an analysis of Maryland State Police Traffic stops showed that African Americans were found to be only 17 percent of highway users but they accounted for 73 percent of all traffic stops. (Buerger, 2006, p99) Complaints of racially motivated traffic stops led many agencies to start recording race on all citizen contacts and traffic stops. Before the complaints most agencies did not have a way of recording the race of people the officers came into contact with and therefore had no way of investigating complaints that certain officers were targeting minorities. This is still a major problem in the United States as there are rules regarding what information is to be recorded vary between each individual police agency. According to Gross:There is only one American jurisdiction for which detailed data on racial profiling in highway searches are available for a considerable period. Since January 1995, Maryland State Police ("MSP") troopers have been...

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