Racial Profiling

Racial profiling has been a very heated issue from past few years. Race and location are the dominant characteristics authorities look at when engaging in this type of profiling. The undeniable pattern of race-based stops by police is a dilemma that millions of African-American and Latino-American motorists regularly encounter on this country's highways. This phenomenon has been sardonically dubbed as "being pulled over for "DWB" (Driving While Black or Brown).

This play on words of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) refers to the commonly employed police practice of using an alleged traffic violation as a pretext to stop any black or Hispanic motorist they suspect of being involved in criminal activity unrelated to driving. These officers have no legal cause for carrying out the stop besides enforcing traffic regulations. Being subjected to a DWB stop is, according to House Representative John Conyers Jr. , "an experience that virtually every African-American male has been subjected to. " (American Civil Liberties Union online).

However, when someone says that there is a difference between white and black people, everyone is afraid they may offend someone, or come across as a racist. The basic fact is there are differences between races. Every race is different is some way, not white or black people. This is not to say that one race is better or should be treated better Page 2 It is saying there is a difference for example; each race has its own cultural background, which can cause language barriers. Also different races have different views on how things should be done and this can cause conflicts locally or nationally.

Although some observers claim that racial profiling doesn't exist, there is a plenty of stories and statistics that document the practice. One case where law enforcement officers were particularly bold in their declaration of intent involved U. S. Forest Service officers in California's Mendocino National Forest last year. In an attempt to stop marijuana growing, forest rangers were told to question all Hispanics whose cars were stopped, regardless of whether pot was actually found in their vehicles.

The practice of racial profiling has been a prominent topic for the past several years. In this February address to Congress, President George W. Bush reported that he had asked Attorney General John Ashcroft "to develop specific recommendations to end racial profiling. It's wrong, and we will end it in America. " (The Myth of Racial Profiling online. ) Minorities are not only more likely to be stopped than whites, but they are also often pressured to allow searches of their vehicles, and they are more likely to allow such searches.

Once the police officer has legally stopped the vehicle, the harm of being discriminated against unfortunately does not end. Besides being subjected to unwanted delay, the officer now has the opportunity to "investigate" for evidence of criminal activity completely separate and unrelated to the traffic violation. The entire interior of the car is now exposed to the eyes of the officer, allowing him to discover and seize any objects that are potentially incriminating within his "plain view.

"If a legal arrest of the driver can be made, the arresting officer is justified to conduct a full-fledged body Search Page3 of the motorist and the entire interior of the car. However, in the majority of cases, the police officer is unable to view anything criminal in plain view or able to find a legal justification for arresting the driver based on the traffic violation. But the probing nature of the officer's investigation does not end here. The officer does not issue a ticket or warning and allow the driver to go, but he will attempt to obtain consent from the driver to search.

Although drivers are under no legal obligation to consent, many still do. Motorists simply aren't fully aware that they can refuse. The Constitution does not require the police to inform citizens they can freely withhold consent from the officer. However, the use of class probability in police investigations is correctly regarded with extreme suspicion, as it violates a basic principle of justice: The legal system should treat all citizens equally, until there is specific, credible evidence that they have committed a crime.

In the case that was discussed, we can say that the odds that any particular young black or Hispanic man will be hassled by the police are much higher than for a white man who, aside from his race, is demographically indistinguishable from him. These minority men, no matter how law-abiding they are, know that they will be investigated by the police significantly more often than other citizens who are not members of their racial group. It did not take long for those in law enforcement to conclude that their best pull would come from seizing goods from who lack the resources to win them back.

In one highly publicized case that occurred in 1991,"federal authorities at the Nashville airport took more than $9,000 in cash from Willie Jones, a black landscaper who was flying to Houston in order to purchase shrubs. According to the police, that money could have Page 4 been used to purchase drugs. After spending thousands of dollars and two years on the case, the landscaper was able to convince the courts to return most of the seized cash. " (Jhon Cohen, 2000). Sam Thach, a Vietnamese immigrant, found himself in a similar situation last year.

He was relieved of $147,000 by the DEA while traveling on Amtrak. Thach was investigated because the details of his ticket purchase, which Amtrak shared with the DEA, "fit the profile" of a drug courier. He was not charged with any crime and is now fighting to retrieve his money in federal court. (Gene Callahen Online). Some racial profiling defenders agree that the drug war bears a large part of the blame for racial profiling. "Many of the stop-and-search cases that brought this matter into the headlines were part of the so-called war on drugs," (Gene Callahan Online).

He contends that even if drugs were legalized tomorrow, the practice would continue. If we really wish to end the scourge of racial profiling, we must address its roots: drug laws that encourage police to consider members of broad groups as probable criminals. We must redirect law enforcement toward solving specific, known crimes using the particular evidence available to them about that crime. Whatever one's opinion on drug legalization may be, it's easy to agree that the state of seizure law in America is reprehensible, even given last year's minor federal reforms.

It should be obvious that there's something nutty about a legal system that assumes suspects in murder, robbery, and rape cases are innocent until a trial proves otherwise, but assumes that a landscaper carrying some cash is guilty of drug trafficking. Page 5 Work Cited Arrest the racism. "David A Harris". On-Line, Dec4th, 2001 http://www. aclu. org/profiling/report/index. html American Renaissance (1999). Nov. 25 2001 Heather Mac Donald. "Myth of racial profiling", On-Line, Dec. 4th, 2001 http://www. city-journal. org/html/11_2_the_myth. html Is Jim Crow alive and well in America today.

" American Civil Liberties Union/ Freedom Network. On-Line, Dec4th, 2001. http://www. aclu. org/profiling Jhon D. Cohen "End of Racial Profiling" Copyright 1999 Recruits Still Low, Randy Diamond, The Bergen Record. On-Line Dec. 4th, 2001. http://www. bergen. com/news/recruitr200008237. htm. Roots of Racial PROFILING, "Gene Callahan and William Anderson. " http://reason. com/0108/fe. gc. the. shtml Supt. Williams Sues NJ for Race Bias, Wendy Ruderman, New Jersey On-Line Dec. 4th, 2001. http://www. nj. com/news/times/stories/10-ukbbfqsb. html Fired State Police