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Police Traffic Stops and Racial Profiling: Resolving Management, Labor and Civil Rights Conflicts

NCJ Number
James T. O'Reilly
Date Published
303 pages
This textbook examines the controversial issue of racial profiling and how it affects a police officer’s decision concerning which drivers should be stopped for questioning during routine traffic duty.
This textbook takes the strong stance that racial profiling should be universally rejected as a police strategy. However, profiling of offenders without regard to race should continue to be used by police officers as a sound crime fighting strategy. The author explains that profiling is not only a necessary strategy for police officers, but that profiling is indeed a natural part of human psychology that allows people to better understand the world. The textbook is divided into eight sections. Section one explains the value of traffic stops to maintaining the public order and how some stops end up in court. Section two explains the controversy surrounding racial profiling and the ways in which it affects civil rights and even community relations. This section also takes a look at recent racial profiling litigation. Section three looks at specific State and Federal cases where racial profiling has presented legal complications. In particular, this section discusses racial profiling cases that occurred in New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Los Angeles, New York, Minnesota, and Ohio. The fourth section discusses legal issues involved with racial profiling, including an examination of the police civil rights “pattern or practice” statute, more commonly simply called section 14141. This section also provides an overview of common police defenses and case settlements. Section five explains the birth of Federal civil rights consent decrees and how they operate. This section also reports on the use of monitors to evaluate police department practices and on the fiscal impact of implementing racial profiling remedial actions. Section six reports on the effects of litigation on police conduct and operations. Section seven discusses the roles of elected officials, police managers, and police unions in relation to managing the impacts of legal remedies on police service. Finally, section eight outlines the consequences consent decrees have had on the operations of police departments. The author concludes by cautioning that although racial profiling should not be among the strategies employed by police officers, heavy-handed constraints placed on officers by political officials could seriously undermine the crime fighting potential of our Nations police departments. Appendices, bibliography, and index