When Is Racial Profiling Wrong?

In whatever area of the country you lived, you knew that there was a group of people from a specific nationality or religion that were posing a danger or committing crimes, would it not make sense to target them in your investigation?

If you were the police in New York City after the 9/11 attack and you were informed that there were other Muslims in your area that were planning other attacks, would it not be prudent and proper to investigate and monitor the Muslim community in general?  You would want to know who is saying what about possible attacks and the only way to gather that information is to focus your investigation on Muslims.  This could be defined by some as racial profiling and thus an illegal practice.

If you were the police in a southwestern state and knew that 95% of the illegal drug traffic was being carried out by Hispanics, wouldn’t it make sense to focus your investigation towards Hispanics crossing the border?  And if you knew that thousands of Hispanics were illegally crossing the border into the US, wouldn’t it make sense to focus your border protection efforts on Hispanics in the area?  This could be defined by some as racial profiling and thus an illegal practice.

If you were the police in a city that had a predominantly black population and you had information telling you that a rash of crimes were being committed by young adult male blacks, wouldn’t you need to focus your investigation against male young adult blacks?  This could be defined by some as racial profiling and thus an illegal practice.

If you were the police in an area that was experiencing a rash of home break-ins and sexual assaults and you had information that they were being committed by a gang of teenage white males, wouldn’t you focus your investigation towards teenage white males?  No one would consider this to be racial profiling, rather it would be proper police work.

This is a growing concern for law enforcement agencies around the nation.  Where is the dividing line between proper law enforcement procedures and illegal racial profiling?

In Arizona, the federal government is going after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling against Hispanics, when in truth they are responsible for the majority of crimes in the area.

In New York City, Muslim clerics are boycotting the city’s interfaith breakfast because of supposed racial profiling that has taken place since 9/11.  In fact, the NY police department with help from federal agencies has thwarted 14 Muslim terrorist plots and arrested or killed 44 Muslim terrorists in the process.  How many lives have they saved by their racial profiling?

Civil liberties groups have gone to extreme measures to make proper law enforcement measures more difficult to carry out because someone who was innocent was offended for being stopped and questioned.  People want a safe country but at the same time they don’t want law enforcement agencies to be able to conduct the necessary investigations and surveillance to provide for that safety.

Well, I’m a white male and when I was a teenager, I and my three best friends were detained by the local police for breaking and entering into a home and stealing guns, television and other items.  We fit the profile of four white teenage males in the general area.  Yes, I was scared to death as I was being threatened with jail for crimes I didn’t commit.  Before the police finished booking the four of us, two other officers arrested 4 teenage white males in the process of burglarizing another house.

Had we been black and the description was of four black teens, civil rights advocates would have been at the police station screaming racial profiling.  But since we were white, the issue never came to anyone’s mind.  I harbor no ill feelings towards the police department for arresting us as I probably would have done the same thing had I been the police officers.

It seems that the charge of racial profiling only applies to non-white and non-Christian groups.  It’s okay to use race and religion to profile whites and Christians, but not anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there needs to be some boundaries to prevent law enforcement from abusing their privileges, but at the same time, they have to be allowed to do their job.  If a certain ethnic or religious group is responsible for breaking the law in your area, then law enforcement must be allowed to focus their attention on that specific group.  After all, what would everyone say if the police spent their time and resources investigating all ethnic and religious groups when their information pointed to only one?