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 the 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...
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