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Racial Profiling

NCJ Number
Darin D. Fredrickson; Raymond P. Siljander
Date Published
169 pages
This book clarifies the difference between the legitimate law enforcement practice of "criminal profiling" and unfair racial discrimination and persecution by law enforcement personnel.
The authors differentiate between "criminal profiling" and "racial profiling." They define "criminal profiling" as "crime detection wherein police officers are perceptive to various indicators suggesting that someone may be engaged in criminal activity." This practice is viewed as legal and necessary in the fight against crime. This book posits that criminal profiling is often confused with racial profiling, in part because a criminal profile will often include, among other things, race and/or national origin, or some other protected category. This book identifies two forms of so-called "racial profiling." One is profiling relative to Fourth Amendment rights where police have no legal basis for an enforcement action. The second is profiling relative to Fourteenth Amendment rights in which police have a legal basis for the enforcement action, but the action is allegedly motivated more by bias than any reasonable suspicion of probable cause that may exist under the circumstances. Accepting that it is already illegal to unfairly discriminate against certain classes of persons, the intention by some to make "racial profiling" illegal would be redundant and do little more than create confusion regarding the legitimate law enforcement practice of criminal profiling. The racial component of criminal profiling appears to be objectionable only when minorities are identified as being disproportionately involved in certain types of crime, such as drug trafficking. In both situations, arrest and conviction data provide an empirical basis for inclusion of race or ethnicity in a profile. Although the authors acknowledge the measures to detect enforcement practices that reflect bias have merit, they emphasize that such efforts must be in addition to the hiring of high-caliber officers, providing quality training, exercising competent leadership, and developing a properly staffed and trained internal affairs department. A 27-item bibliography and a subject index