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Racial profiling by the police has been a widely practiced norm in major entry points in the US and other perceived susceptible nations like Israel. It involves the exploitation of races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and the countries of descent as primary factors in deciding who to stop, search or arrest. In America the intensity of profiling took a major turn following the terror attacks carried out on the eve of the eminent 9/11. The police have treated members of the Middle Eastern and Asian descent, as potential terrorists and have denied them their basic right of innocence. Similarly, the anti-immigrant rhetoric pronounced by the police, which presumes that all Latinos are violent and disorderly and therefore must be tamed, is behind the increased hate-crimes against the Latino communities. African Americans have also borne the impacts of racial profiling, especially on the false assumption that they are drug traffickers.
In order to end this practice, investigating and enforcing authorities must be practically separated by legislative laws formulated to get meaningful outcomes. Secondly, judicial officers must be over-independent given that; it is believed magistrates only act as rubber-stamps when search warrants are requested by police without further inquiries. Thirdly, there ought to be more vigilance on evidence-gathering, as this will help in apprehending precise police culprits hence, reducing racial discrimination on pretext of one's color, race or country of origin. And lastly, the government must outlaw racial profiling by introducing and passing an ensuing Act that prohibits any form of racial profiling at all government levels. This paper, thus, recommends that equal law enforcement on every individual be upheld at all times.
Racial profiling by the police has taken a focal turn in recent days where it is practiced in major entry points in the US and other specific nations like Israel that feel threatened by the Arab-world. In America the intensity of profiling engaged a higher motion following the terror attacks carried out on the eve of the eminent 9/11. And in Israel this practice has been the order of the day, since they believe their nation is constantly targeted by Islamic extremists. Whether racial profiling is acceptable or if it is simply used as a tool for intimidation is the subject of this issue paper.
Accordingly, racial profiling is defined as any police initiated-action that discriminates a person or persons based on their cultural backgrounds. Usually, it involves the exploitation of races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, or the countries of origin as primary factors in deciding who to stop, search, question, arrest or prosecute, except in specific circumstances where these particulars may lead to the arrest of a suspected criminal (Senators Leahy & Durbin, 2012). For whatever reasons racial profiling continues to be used, many people are waking up to the idea that the practice is culturally biased, wrong and carried out in disregard of the law and the fundamental human rights.
Background of Racial Profiling
Racial profiling properly emerged in early 1990s, though its roots can be traced to the 1980s. As of today, the practice is classified into three waves. The first wave has its roots in the early 1980s when the federal government intensified war on drugs. During the time, the law enforcement agencies concluded that as a result of the increased security checks on commercial aircrafts, many traffickers were opting to transport their drugs by road, especially through interstate highways. To track down the suspects, the federal government began campaign training through data-gathering method of suspected drug traffickers. By 1998, it was already clear to the public that the profiling method mainly targeted the minority communities (Kops, 2006).
The second wave was instigated after the 9/11 attack. At the time, even the Latinos and African Americans supported the need for profiling, especially with the Muslim world. The idea was based on the assumption that the terrorist attackers were all Muslims. Profiling was thus justified on that basis. The third wave started somewhere in the mid 2000s. This was the time when illegal immigrants became a political issue. The argument was that if millions of immigrants could be allowed into the country, then there was possibility that some terrorists could also find their way in. They were, therefore, considered threats to national security. The Latinos, blacks and Muslims were the most affected in this wave (Senators Leahy & Durbin, 2012.
Over the history, racial profiling has become the central element of a heated debate of whether the practice plays any role in security measures or if it is simply an intimidation tactic by the authorities. Conversely, there are Americans who support it as a necessary tool in today's society, while there are those who consider it as an offensive and degrading practice meant to violate both human and civil rights of specific communities (Orr & Mogren, 2009). President Bush goes down in history as one of the American presidents that openly disowned racial profiling in his famous statement of 2001 that the practice is wrong and must be ended in America (Bush, 2001). Ironically, after the 9/11 he was in the forefront of accusing the Muslim world (American Muslims included) as potential terrorists and thus opened the door for federal agencies to intimidate them under the carpet of security checks. In fact, in 2003, he signed into law the Patriot Act, which officially included all persons considered as 'potential terrorists' as fundamental threats to national security.
Nevertheless, regardless of the debate and reasons that may prompt such action, racial profiling is profoundly unacceptable practice that poses a great threat to the fundamental doctrines and values of the American Constitution. Specifically, the Forth Amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from being investigated or arrested without a warrant. Another section, the fourteenth Amendment, guarantees the public equal treatment under the laws of the land. Besides, the practice disproportionately targets persons from specific races and ethnicities for investigation, arrest and intimidation and isolating them from the rule of law, thus hindering the credibility of the Constitution to serve and protect the citizens. It is also ironical that the very people mandated under the constitution to protect the public from harm and enhance justice and equality in the society becomes the perpetrators of the same constitution. In deed, the realities of racial profiling have led many people, especially the minority communities, to constantly live in fear and have created an environment where some races are perceived as suspects and denied the presumption of innocence under the Constitution (Bou-Habib, 2011).
The minorities, specific nationalities and other beleaguered races have been wrongly accused from time and again by the practice of racial profiling. At times, racial profiling proponents tend to argue that, it is as effective gauge to be applied while thwarting presumed crimes. Accordingly, many of the victims undergo humiliations and disillusions, hence infusing a universal uproar. The police have misused this practice to an extent of manipulating lies for their own conveniences; citing a case when a police boss from Louisiana wrongfully planted drugs as evidence to a victim and the officer was later charged for providing manipulative substantiations (Ruiz, Julseth & Winters, 2010). Racial profiling is a practice that profoundly harms the community security by blackmailing the minority groups that they are always the perpetrators of crimes. It can surely not be that the minority communities make up the greatest numbers of criminal cases as claimed by the law enforcement agencies.
Since September11, 2001, the U.S law enforcement officers have treated the Muslim world, especially members of the Middle Eastern and Asian descent, as potential terrorists and have denied them the right of innocence that is accorded to them under the law. The Patriot Act of 2003, which was formulated with the intention of including potential threats to the national threat, is largely seen as justifying the racial profiling and thus has fueled the intimidation of the minority communities. FBI has particularly been on the spot on monitoring Mosques and intimidating Muslim faithful and threatening to deport those who do not cooperate (Moody, 2008).
Besides the Muslim world, racial profiling has also greatly affected the immigrant communities (especially the Latinos) who are constantly and unjustly raided in disregard of the law by the federal agencies. The anti-immigrant rhetoric promoted by the law enforcement agents, which presumes that all Latinos are violent and disorderly and therefore must be tamed, is behind the increased hate-crimes against the Latino communities. In North Carolina (particularly Alamance County), Latino drivers are more likely to be stopped or arrested in comparison to the non-Latino drivers. The state agents have also imposed restrictions on the movements of Latinos especially when they are leaving their communities, in which they are expected to go through police checks. Even in minor offenses where non-Latinos would not be arrested except for the warnings, Latinos would themselves be arrested. Thus, racial profiling has also created an environment that is culturally biased (Kops, 2006).
Racial profiling has equally affected the African Americans, who are falsely assumed to be major drug traffickers in America. As a result, Blacks are more likely to be stopped and searched than the Caucasians. It's even worse in Boston, where Blacks and Hispanics are constantly pulled aside while driving for no apparent reason except for the dislike of the communities. There are also evidences showing that Blacks who dress expensively and adorn themselves in jewelry are more likely to be stopped and searched on the grounds of dealing in drugs (Moody, 2008).
Investigating and enforcing authorities must be practically separated by legislative laws formulated to get meaningful outcomes so that the perception of racial profiling could reduce. The separation of roles will inevitably increase professionalism in the manner in which the authorities collect their intelligence and handle security details. This will actually build peoples' trust towards the police, since at times the very police department is involved in investigation and doubles as law enforcers (Lever 2011).
According to Lever (2011), judicial officers must be over-independent given that; it is believed magistrates only act as rubber-stamps when search warrants are requested by police without further inquiries. This has made the police presume their superiority without observing provisions of law. To end racial profiling, the judicial officers must perform their duties with professionalism and independency. It is, therefore, necessary that the judiciary moves swiftly, concretely and over-independently in prohibiting discriminatory police practices that are inherently unjust and counterproductive.
Provided that the Police still hold the powers of autonomous law enforcement, there ought to be more vigilance on evidence-gathering, as this will help in apprehending precise culprits hence, reducing racial discrimination on pretext of one's color, race or country of origin.
In order for the government to uphold and protect the privacy and human rights of all its citizens regardless of their races, ethnicities, religions and their countries of descent, it must outlaw racial profiling by introducing and passing an ensuing Act that prohibits any form of racial profiling at all government levels (federal, state and local). The government must also revoke the Patriot Act, which included all the 'potential threats' to the national threats. This will particularly help the Muslim Americans and the Muslim world in general to build trust in the U.S government, which has over the last decade considered them potential terrorists. Whatever the context, the practice is not effective in dealing with security issues. In fact, it creates and promotes an environment where the public becomes less safe and extremely insecure (Mosher, 2011).
Equal law enforcement on every individual must be upheld at all times. It is ambiguous to be sterner on other individuals while some are getting a free-ride. Indeed, there should be more advanced techniques acquired from periodical workshops to prepare the current police force to sidetrack from archaic presumptions and traditionally inherited belies, that certain people must always be stopped, searched or detained since they are likely to commit an offense. It is palpable that the police could be applying racial profiling to perform intimidation on individuals. Conclusively, urgent steps must be drawn to deter profiling practices done by the police, which might cost innocent individuals unpleasant jail terms (Alpert, Dunham & Smith, 2007).