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In addition the author suggests that the relationship between police and racial minority citizens has throughout history been controversial, and argues that racial profiling is simply a method by which police agents can perpetuate discrimination and prejudice (Bass, 2001).
Mcleod (2003) examines the viewpoint that the problem with racial profiling is that it unmistakable identifies a certain portion of the population as 'them' and pairs that description against 'we' suggesting that racial disparities upset the natural order of things (p. 343). Such thinking is not only outdated, but it also lays the foundation for ineffective policy and law enforcement efforts that are not focused on the problem, but are rather focused on a superficial aspect of a persons overall composition, namely their race (Mcleod, 2003).
Banks (2003) suggests that racial profiling is irrational and pervasive, and results in widespread investigation of black, Latinos and other racial minorities without empirical evidence to suggest that there is a valid reason for doing so. In addition Banks (2003) confirms that racial profiling results of mistreatment of racial minorities which leads to subsequent tensions between racial minority communities and law enforcement agencies, which can damage the ability of police agents to effectively address crime within urban communities.
As a result of the negative information available with regard to racial profiling, numerous law enforcement agencies and government officials now have publicly "disavowed" the practice, prohibited it, or condemned it completely (Banks, 2003). Many studies of law enforcement practices are also being adopted in order to document the extent to which racial profiling is occurring, and in an attempt to identify whether such efforts have been effective or not (Banks, 2003). Extensive evidence suggest that even in jurisdictions that have prohibited the practice, racial profiling is still occurring, perhaps as a result of ingrained practices that officers or law enforcement officials are having a difficult time overcoming (Banks, 2003).
The large majority of evidence available with regard to racial profiling suggests that the practice is largely ineffective, or at minimum the practice has provided ambiguous results and little empirical evidence (Banks, 2003).
The majority of information available with regard to racial profiling suggests that racial profiling as a practice is an ineffective method of deterring criminal activity (Trende, 2000; Harris, 2002; Mcleod, 2003; Bass, 2001). In addition a large body of research is available which suggests that racial profiling disproportionately targets minority populations and results in increased tensions and poor relationships between law enforcement agents and minority citizens (Banks, 2003; Bass, 2001; Harris, 2002).
Despite this relatively negative view of racial profiling there are still those that support its use claiming that minorities are more likely than others to commit crimes and thus should be singled out (Bass, 2001). However there is little empirical evidence available that supports this argument.
There is also evidence to suggest that racial profiling results in less effective crime fighting and a tendency on the part of law enforcement agents to focus on suspects based on race rather than focus on them based on legitimate reason (Banks, 2003).
Current trends suggest that despite an adequate amount of support refuting the efficacy of racial profiling; it is still a relatively common practice among many police agencies (Banks, 2003; Mcleod, 2003; Harris, 2002). In addition whereas in the past primarily African-Americans and Latinos were targeted, now there is increasing emphasis on Arabs, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent (Hoopes, 2003).
It is vital that law enforcement agents adopt practices that promote strong crime fighting practices and equal treatment under the law. To do so law enforcement agencies must promote fair and objective crime fighting practices. The result from the preliminary analysis conducted on racial profiling suggest that racial profiling is by and large, a negative practice that impacts minority populations in a disproportionate manner. The researcher proposes further research into racial profiling and a qualitative analysis of racial profiling practices among local law enforcement agencies in order to determine the extent to which racial profiling is still a problem that needs be addressed in local agencies.
Banks, R.R. (2003). "Beyond profiling: Race, policing and the drug war." Stanford Law Review,
Bass, S. (2001). "Policing space, policing race: Social control imperatives and police discretionary decisions." Social Justice, 28(1): 156
Harris, D. (2002). "Flying while Arab: Lessons from the racial profiling controversy." Civil
Rights Journal, 6(1): 8
Hoopes, J., Quinlan, T.L., & Ramirez, D.A. (2003). "Defining racial profiling in a post-…[continue]
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