Racial profiling is a biased practice where law enforcement agents or officials target some defined individuals as being suspects to criminal activities. The law enforcement officials use a person’s religion, ethnicity, race or nation of origin as the defining factors in conducting a racial profiling. In United States, racial profiling is a common practice.
It is most common in the policing department. Racial profiling came into the limelight in the 1990s when the media published how the issue is deep rooted in the police force. The media claimed that the police use a person’s race, religion and country of origin as the prime aspects in determining individuals most likely to involve in criminal activities. It made most of the color communities living in the United States label the phenomena of racial profiling as “driving while black” or “driving while brown”
According to several surveys done in the United States of America, most Americans regardless of their religion, race or country of origin reported that racial profiling exists, and it forms one of the many social problems experienced in America. Racial profiling is deep rooted in the police departments and followed by employed guards both in public and private organizations. Road blocks police and highway patrol police officers often stops and requests communities of color to pull over for closer scrutiny. Most importantly, many of African American citizens who drive in United States complain that police officers often make them stop for no apparent reason. They believe that they are stopped by police officers in the streets and roads simply because of their race. Kolender et al. v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983).
Why Racial Profiling Is Common
The justification given by law enforcement officers, such as the police and private or public guards for conducting racial profiling is that communities of color in America are more in criminal activities. According to them, this is evident in the composition of inmates in prisons. In most of the American detention centers, communities of color living in the United States form a large percentage of inmates serving jail terms. This makes many of the law enforcement officials treat communities of color with more caution. They thoroughly scrutinize them on road blocks or other vital security check points such as in airport. Kolender et al. v. Lawson. 1983
Racial profiling intensified in America due to an increase in street crimes and international terrorism. Racial profiling became something of more concern after September 9th terrorist attacks in America. Racial profiling for individuals of Arab descent became heightened because it was assumed that people of Arabic origin were responsible for this attack. They were placed under extreme inspection by law enforcement officials.
Reason Why Racial Profiling Should Not Be Practiced
Racial profiling should not be encouraged in American. Race, ethnicity, and religion are not supposed to be used as the parameters of determining or identifying people who pose a security threat in America as there have been whites who have been found guilty of more solemn offenses. Even whites have the capability to commit domestic terrorist attacks. Furthermore, foreign terrorists targeting America may collaborate with local white Americans to conduct their terrorism activities on United States soil. All people should thus be put under the same scrutiny so as to counter criminal activities in the United States.
Impact of the Supreme Court Decision in Whren v. United States
The Supreme Court has the final say in the interpretation of any law in the constitution. The Supreme Court interpretation of legal practices allowing traffic stops by police officers was made in 1996 court case of Whren V. United States. In this case, the court was asked to determine whether a vehicle search was constitutional. In its response, the court said that a traffic offence by any driver is enough to warrant a search. The court mentioned that this was regardless of the law enforcement officer true motivations or intentions of the search. This ruling by the Supreme Court had an impact on racial profiling. It allowed or gave a go ahead for a pretextual stop by a law enforcement officer. An officer will stop an individual simply because of race, ethnicity or country of origin. Then, the officer will use a minor traffic infraction as a reason for stopping an individual. In the real sense, the officer will have stopped the person due to his race, ethnicity, or religion. Whren et al. v. United States, 1996.