Racial Profiling and Male African Americans Racial profiling has been and will continue to be a problem in the United States. Many believe that racial profiling is more prevalent in today’s society; however, this issue has been a part of our society since slavery. Moreover, African American males are mostly the targets of racial profiling, especially in larger cities like New York City and Los Angeles. Racial profiling is becoming a huge problem within the police departments.
Police officers are conducting more traffic stops on African Americans males than on any other racial group, for the reason that many police officers believe African Americans males are most likely to be engaged in some sort of criminal activity. Thus, racial profiling is illegal in the United States, and a police officer have the right to stop a motorist and search his or her vehicle, if he or she feels the person is withholding illegal weapons and/or drugs.
However, many argue that most traffic stops that lead to an arrest were against African American males, sparking up controversial issues against racial profiling and police officers in recent years (Weitzer, Tuch, 2002). A police officer’s decision to stop and interrogate a person of a racial or ethnic group is the key factor of racial profiling. However, why are African Americans males the number one target of this ever-escalating issue?
Do African American males hold the most criminal record among police statistics and/or the United States Census Bureau or does it have to do with the vehicle they drive, the color of their skin, the amount of occupants in their vehicle, or the traffic violation committed? To determine why there are many controversial issues concerning African American males and racial profiling, we are going to look at racial profiling by police officers; examine the study, research, and statistics behind racial profiling; and how racial profiling affects male African Americans.
For years, minority communities have been accusing police officers of targeting, stopping, and harassing African American males. Many accuse the police of stopping a person who fits a particular profile such as a gang member, drug trafficker, or weapon holder, and of all the minority groups in the United States, African American males or DWB (driving while black) are the main targets for police traffic stops. According to the Supreme Court in 1996, an officer has the right to stop a person and investigate possible criminal conduct even if he police officer may lack probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime took place and as an alternative use a traffic violation as a made-up excuse. For the reason that every driver takes part in some kind of traffic violation, making it easier for officers to conduct traffic stops and thus, is one of the main factors motivating officers to target a driver’s race. In addition, racial profiling among male African Americans are not just taking place on highways, but also in airports and in other places where policing is involve.
With many controversial issues concerning racial profiling, in 1999, President Clinton condemned the practice and ordered all federal agencies to record a person’s race when stopping and interrogating a driver (Weitzer, Tuch, 2002; Persico, 2002). With the lack of equality between racial groups, changes to the police policy were made to correct the disparity. The concept behind the changes to the policy is to reduce the level to which officers can use racial characteristics on a person.
However, some argue that by forbidding an officer from using some characteristics on a person could decrease the effectiveness of policing and increase criminal activity. Persico (2002) states, “those who engage in certain criminal activities tend to share certain characteristics relating to specific socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds” (p. 1472). Therefore, giving officers reasoning behind the characteristics of certain motorists.
Either way one looks at the issue concerning male African Americans and law enforcement officials there will always be some fundamental tension and conflicting accusations for the reason that some citizens may argue for equal treatment within the United States laws and others will argue that law enforcement officials are not doing their job as far as crime goes. The principle of law enforcement and the principle of equality among African American males make this issue even more difficult to analyze (Persico, 2002).
According to Delores (2007), although, many things in policing have changed as far as policies goes, many things will remain the same. Changes to the police policy were to improve the image of police in certain communities, and impact citizens in a positive way through trust and satisfaction. However, Delores (2007) states, officers perceive African American males as people who are capable of wrongdoing even though a crime has yet to be committed. In addition, in noncriminal or minimal criminal activities police view male African Americans as the most dangerous.
Police officers developed ways to recognize certain kind of people, as emblematic assailants, meaning, police recognize the gesture, attire, language of a person, which is then perceive as a prelude to violence. However, sometimes officers make mistakes and innocent citizens like African American males end up paying the ultimate price. In 1998, four African American males name Keyshon Moore, Rayshawn Brown, LeRoy Jarmaine Grant and Danny Reyes all fell victims to racial profiling.
The four victims were on their way to a basketball tryout in hopes of winning a scholarship at Carolina College when White state troopers, James Kenna and John Hogan stop the victims for speeding and upon approach fired 11 shots at the van, hitting Mr. Brown, Grant, and Reyes. The driver Keyshon Moore were the only one not wounded in this incident. Troopers, Kennan and Hogan claim the driver Mr. Moore put the van in reverse upon their approach. The four sued the state of New Jersey and both troopers for shooting without provocation.
The victims also claim racial profiling to be the cause of this incident. The state awarded the four men $13 million. Troopers, Kenna and Hogan face charges of misconduct, falsifying records, and aggravated assault. Moreover, trooper Kenna faces charges for attempted murder (Delores, 2007; Jet, 2001) Persico (2002) conducted a research study that examines the effectiveness and fairness between two groups of citizens (White and Black males) who engages in the same kind of illegal activity, to determine if these models are audit by the police (or search).
The purpose of the research was not to increase crime rate but to study the effectiveness of policing. To understand the purpose of this study one must first understand equilibrium. In order for a particular group to be treated the same, without feeling as if racial profiling is in play. Both groups must be the same in equilibrium, meaning one group cannot have a lower crime rate than the other. If one groups does have a lower crime rate than the other, officers may not want to search the group with the lower crime rate.
Thus, by ignoring members within the lower crime rate could increase illegal activity for the reason that police are targeting the other group. However, the study also argues that if equilibrium did exist between these two groups, would officers be able to maximize the probability of a person’s criminal behavior. According to the author, the study shows an imbalance between the interior of equilibrium between groups, meaning officers do not have severe incentive into racial profiling, the reason that one group is target more than the other has to do with the groups criminal activity rate.
However, the author does not deny that by ignoring one group strictly due to criminal statistics could increase the group’s criminal activity (Persico, 2002). The thought of racial profiling is hard to grasp, especially when police officers are supposed to be there to protect and serve our communities. Racial profiling started back in the 1980s when certain groups were the target of Americans war on drugs. Officers were encouraged to stop and search a specific minority group. However, several years later, police departments had to change their procedures.
Therefore, does racial profiling still exist, if so, has anyone once thought how police misconduct affected its victims. According to the United States Law, although, racial profiling is condemned, officers still have the right to seize a person’s property if he or she feels that the person is a suspected drug dealer. Therefore, until there are changes in the seizure laws, racial profiling will continue for years to come. A male African American student, well dress, was on his way to a job interview one morning when Georgia State Patrol pulled him over on I-75 for speeding.
Ensuring himself that the pullover should not take that long for he was only speeding. However, before the officer approached his vehicle, he called for backup. When the second patrol car pulled up, officers ordered the driver out of his vehicle and ordered him to set on one of their patrol cars. The officers stated that they were conducting a drug search on the vehicle. During their search one of the officers stated to the driver, “Where did you get the money for this vehicle”? After the driver’s SUV was demolished, officers let the driver go after not finding anything illegal.
Once the officers left, the driver sat in his vehicle weeping in humiliation and anger over what had just now happened to him. This is what male African Americans are going through on a daily basis and although, there were changes in police policies, African American males are continuing to be the number one target of police misconduct (Callahan, Anderson, 2005). Racial profiling will continue to be a problem in the United States, even though President Clinton condemned it back in 1999, for the reason that officers will continue to find other ways to get around the system without the use of pretext.
According to the Supreme Court in 1996, officers have the right to stop and search a person and investigate possible criminal conduct even if the officer lacks probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. For the reason that every driver committees some kind of minor traffic violation. However, does it still give officers the right to target mainly male African Americans? Why do officers feel that African American males are most likely to engage in some kind of criminal activity? Does the reason behind this misconduct have to do the Criminal Justices Census Bureau?
No one will know exactly what is behind officer’s misconduct; however, something has to be done to put an end to racial profiling, especially when it states in the constitution that everyone is created equal.
Callahan, G. , & Anderson, W. (2005). Racial profiling unfairly targets minorities. Retrieved on March 9, 2008, from Axia College Online Library: Gale PowerSearch Document. Delores, J. B. (2007). Forever the symbolic assailant: The more things change, the more they remain the same. Criminology & Public Policy. Vol. 6(1), p. 103-121. Retrieved on March 8, 2008, from Axia College Online Library: EBSCOhost.
Jet. (2001). New jersey to pay $12. 9 million to four racial profiling victims. Vol. 99(10), p. 8. Retrieved on March 9, 2008, from Axia College Online Library: EBSCOhost. Persico, N. (2002). Racial profiling, fairness, and effectiveness of policing. Vol. 92(5). Retrieved March 7, 2008, from Axia College Online Library: EBSCOhost. Weitzer, R. , & Tuch, S. A. (2002). Perceptions of racial profiling: Race, class, and personal experience. Criminology: George Washington University. Vol. 40(2). Retrieved on March 7, 2008, from Axia College Online Library: EBSCOhost.