[dropcap]A[/dropcap]merica is recognized by some hopeful immigrants and pride-ridden citizens as the land of the free and home of the brave. However, America is recognized by a handful of minorities as a land of the oppressed. This is because there have been a slew of injustices within the African-American and Hispanic communities, specifically, that have been continually protested against. These injustices have raised several debates on the effect the color of a person’s skin has on his or her treatment as a human being. The concomitant racial profiling that a colored skin may trigger is the descendant of racism as well as an evident sign of neglect for human civil rights.
Thus, it is not surprising that recent reports of racial profiling and police brutality unleashed on defined communities in America today have elicited sharp responses from journalists, civil rights activists, state-officials and other conscientious members of the American society. Debates on the vexing issues of racism and racial profiling may have been ramped up, but is America coming together or is the gulf between minority communities and main stream America widening?
One thing is certain. The rapport among members of minority communities is not fragile, and it was established by the synonymous fear of law enforcement and what seemed to be racial profiling against them since racial profiling is an act that elevates even law abiding citizens to the height of infamous criminals. A criminal is defined as a person who engages in “an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.” In other words, when law abiding citizens are perceived as criminals because of the color of their skins, racial profiling eliminates, therefore, the effectiveness of the true motive of law enforcement, which is to serve and protect.
[pullquote]Racial profiling is an anathema since there are no scientific calculations that suggest that a particular amount of melanin contained in one’s skin cells determines a person’s ability to commit a crime.[/pullquote] At this juncture, it is safe to argue that racial profiling is an act of ignorance, a quality in which educated law enforcers should never acquire because it is an obvious dishonor to the oath in which police officers are sworn: to serve and protect the people. That being said, racial profiling should be a legitimate law enforcement policy in some areas, including but not limited to both diverse and predominantly African-American and Latino communities.
A criminal is a criminal. The argument here is not that a specific minority should be an exception to the punishment resulting from any action which defied the law. Nor should the point being made be misconstrued to debunk the effectiveness of the investigative tool known as criminal or offender profiling, which intended use “is to predict and profile the characteristics of unknown criminal subjects or offenders.” Instead, it is the argument which supports equal rights and the need for the managers of the police force to enable an environment in which the color of one’s skin will not be the primary determinant for subjugating certain individuals in America and exposing same to injustice in the name of the law.
Racial profiling is an anathema since there are no scientific calculations that suggest that a particular amount of melanin contained in one’s skin cells determines a person’s ability to commit a crime. As a result, making profiling by race or ethnicity the exclusive rights of minority communities sends a message that one skin color is more law-abiding and less likely to commit criminal offences, while the other is more likely to be participating in criminal activity.
According to Ian Ayres and Johnathan Borowsky, in a report prepared for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, pedestrian and motor vehicle stops of the Los Angeles Police Department from July 2003 to June 2014, per 10,000 residents, the black stop rate is 3,400 stops higher than white stop rate, and the Hispanic rate almost 360 stops higher. Relative to stopped whites, blacks are 127% more likely and Hispanics are 43% more likely to be frisked. Relative to stopped whites, 76% of blacks and 16% of Hispanics are more likely to be searched [and] frisked African Americans are 42.3% less likely to be found with a weapon than frisked whites and frisked Hispanics are 21.8% less likely to have a weapon than frisked non-Hispanic whites. Consensual searches of blacks are 37% less like to uncover weapons, 23.7% less likely to uncover drugs and 25.4% less likely to uncover anything else.
ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization, states that 1,217 fatal shootings by police from 2010 to 2012, according to federal data, show that black youth aged 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, a whopping 30 times greater than their white counterparts who came in at a 1.47 per million. The significance of the catastrophic disparity between the fatalities is very obvious when one takes into cognizance the fact that Caucasians account for 77.7% of the US population while African Americans account for a mere 13.2% of the US population.
A national survey conducted between August 20 and August 24 by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY among 1,501 people on their rating of the job performance of members of the police force found striking differences in ratings between Caucasians and African-Americans. 70% of black people thought police forces did not treat racial and ethnic groups equally while only 25% of white people shared the same opinion, as well as 33% of black people and 10% of white people felt unprotected from crime.
Instead of the undermining tactic, perhaps community policing can pose as a more effective approach to apprehending criminals. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, community policing is “collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems.” The Bureau then goes on to state that members of the community become active allies in the effort to mimic the job of the police – enhancing both safety and quality of their neighborhood.”
In essence, community policing is a mutual relationship which is built and maintained entirely on trust. And, it is the police force that must initiate this trust starting with police officers treating all members of the American society with respect and by limiting the use of unnecessary force or arrogance.
All things considered, the negativity associated with racial profiling brings no benefit to the men and women who are sworn to protect their community or the hard-working members within the community. To support the practice of racial profiling is to support the deprivation of a people’s rights and a blatant disregard for the Fourteenth Amendment, which declares that no state may “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Therefore, any law enforcement officer, who clearly disobeys this Amendment by engaging in this discriminatory practice, is blatantly ignoring the Constitution thereby sending the inaccurate message that he or she is above the law.
No one is above the American Constitution.