There are some who contend that racial profiling does not exist and that minorities simply commit more crimes than whites. A great deal of evidence counters this viewas demonstrated by interviews with police officers who acknowledge that they sometimes target certain minority groups for specific crimes in order to fill their daily quota.
Others feel that racial profiling, while ideologically unsound, has created some positive changes. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, for example, prides himself on reducing crime in New York City. In my opinion, this was done through illegal street and apartment searches in minority neighborhoods, throwing all offenders in jail. Most people understand that such actions may well have been unconstitutional, but some believe that the end justified the means.
In fact, it must be acknowledged that racial profiling has sometimes been an effective crime-solving tool, as it has allowed police to arrest large numbers of drug dealers and gang members involved in illegal activities. This fact, however, is not an adequate justification for targeting certain groups of people. Racial profiling has been used as a crutch by law enforcement for too long, and it is time that police look to different methods to protect the rights of all citizens.
There are others who object to giving up the secrecy of the police force and allowing the community to oversee and criticize their actions. However, it is important to emphasize that such oversight is taken for the safety of the peoplewhich is the sole purpose of the police force. Secrecy is acceptable only when it enables the police to protect the community, not when it is done in order to protect officers who have misbehaved.
Finally, there are those skeptics who may criticize the effectiveness of bills like the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act that require the police to document their activity. Critics of such proposals are probably correct that there is little way to force police to document all the stops and searches that they make. One can only be assured that when an officer actually writes up a ticket or citation, he or she will be required to have documentation of the action. These write-ups alone should provide evidence as to whether or not racial profiling is occurring.
Cooperation from everyone--police, citizens, and the government--will be necessary in order for police reform to work. Action taken by any one group can only resolve part of the problem.
By Katherine Bromberg, Hearts and Minds Volunteer
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