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Racial Profiling

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The process of developing descriptions of the traits and characteristics of unknown offenders in specific criminal cases has become known as profiling. On the other hand, racial profiling involves the traits and characteristics of unknown offenders based solely on their race or color. This topic draws my interests because I have plans to join law enforcement, and initially I had thought that racial profiling was a normal procedure which many law enforcement officials regularly used in their daily investigations. However, after reading the article about racial profiling from Wikipedia, it came to my attention that the topic is surrounded by considerable controversy. Because the viewpoint of the article conflicted with my original thought, I decided to research further into all that racial profiling entails. I researched the common misconceptions about racial profiling, as well as the various views and opinions of racial profiling in our society. Apparently racial profiling is quite controversial. This sparked my interest further. Is racial profiling an accurate procedure? Is it helping investigations, or hindering them? Can racial profiling aid in bettering our society from criminals? Is racial profiling just another, more modern form of racism? These are some questions I am looking to be answered by my research.

According to Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool and The Casebook of Forensic Detection, racial profiling became the focus of a major debate towards the end of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, when a group of activists and social scientists accused law enforcement officials for apparently singling out African Americans (particularly young males) for arrest and mistreatment. In 2001 following the September 11th terrorist attacks, specific attention was directed towards Middle Eastern males for racial profiling. Nevertheless, it was my understanding that racial profiling has aided in many criminal investigations leading to arrest. I thought that this would be considered a good thing, since the objective of law enforcement is to protect and serve the people by whichever means possible as long as it remains constitutional. But I found that racial profiling does not only exist within law enforcement, to me it seemed that it is also a problem over a widespread of areas such as health care and even employment opportunities. Because of these issues, I understood how racial profiling could be considered problematic. I agree that racial profiling outside of criminal investigations should not be done. However, I feel that in many investigations it may be essential to use tactics like racial profiling, because I feel that as unfortunate as it is, certain crimes are committed more among a certain race then others. For example not all, but a good portion of the United States most devastating terrorist moments happened to be committed by Middle Eastern males. So when a male of Middle Eastern descent is profiled and possibly arrested because of a suspicion, I do not feel law enforcement officials’ actions are unprecedented.

In researching I came across critics of racial profiling that say they are disconcerted by the tactics that are used. In Offender Profiling and Crime Analysis, it is presented that racial profiling is problematic because race shouldn’t be the main reason for suspicion, and although racial profiling may be beneficial to an investigation of a crime, it is more likely that errors will occur when the investigation is primarily based on race. It is also suggested that racial profiling is a form of stereotyping and discrimination. Aside from the obvious moral problems that stereotyping and discrimination present, racial profiling may be in violation according to the US Constitution. As documented in the Fourth Amendment, “we the people” from unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause. I would imagine that to solely have race as grounds for suspicion may possibly result in unreasonable searches and seizures a chance that it would not be considered probable cause. Another criticism of racial profiling is that it blinds police officials from viewing an investigation in it’s entirely; I would think that because of racial profiling, officials are more likely to rule out other helpful possibilities. The points made in this article have not necessarily swayed me to thinking anything different in regards to racial profiling. I do not see it being morally wrong and I would not agree that it is unconstitutional. However I do agree that it may be a form stereotyping and discrimination in some cases.

As I researched, I came across many viewpoints that were geared towards criticizing racial profiling. Overall I concluded that racial profiling is not supported because of the demoralizing tactics it calls for. The prominent question is whether police officials should utilize and practice racial profiling.

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