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Racial Profiling


Profiling is a police behavior that enables the police officers to view certain traits as indicators of criminal behavior. Profiling is a law enforcement policy that is accepted in most of the countries. Profiling helps in crime prevention and it has replaced many traditional ways of preventing crimes in most countries. There are two ways in which a person can define racial profiling. First racial profiling is said to occur when a police officer stops, interrogates or arrests a person basing his investigation on his race or ethnicity. The police officer can also do search on specific people and the police officer assumes that other factors are also considered during his search or stop. Another way of looking at racial profiling is that racial profiling can occur when a police officer uses race or ethnicity only as part of other aspects to decide when to make a stop, to query someone or arrest. The aim of this paper is to determine if law enforcement agencies can use measures like racial profiling in law enforcement to help prevent crime and provide security to the citizens.

 Racial profiling

Racial profiling involves the law enforcement using race as a factor that can help the police officers to stop people or question the people. It involves the creation of traits or behaviors that are only formed on race  and then the police officer uses this traits and behavior to determine if the person is guilty or not and if he is guilty the police officers arrest the person. This concept mostly involves searches and stops (Jennifer, 2003).For example in the airport racial profiling is used to search people according to their character and behavior. If the person has some behaviors

 That are questionable then the police officers stops him and question him and carries out search. Racial profiling can be used in law enforcement to prevent crimes when applied from a genuine point. Like in United States race profiling is not prohibited. This is because according to the fourth amendment of United States constitution it states that investigatory stops are not illegal as long as the facts and conditions why the police officer has made the stop lead to a logical suspicion that the person under this stop has committed a crime (Jennifer, 2003) Police officers can stop a driver if they suspect that he has committed a crime. For example in United States verses Arvizu the Supreme Court has decided that racial profiling can be used as long as it is used in the right manner(Jennifer, 2003) If the police officer suspects somebody to be a criminal he is allowed to stop him and search him. This idea has been supported by several cases. T

hat is the United States verses sokolow and United States verses Cortez. There are two kinds of criminal profiling (Gaines,&Miller,2008).The first kind of criminal profiling is mainly done to identify a person who has been involved in criminal activities while the second kind of criminal profiling is done to find a person suspected to have carried a certain crime immediately after the crime has happened. It is good to use racial profiling in law enforcement as long as the police officer does not use racial biasness but the police officer can incorporate race and ethnicity in his investigation as long as the situation in which he is using the terms is clear and relevant.

 Racial profiling is important in providing security in a country because it helps fight crimes, drug smuggling and terrorism (Gaines, &Miller, 2008).Drug smugglers use the borders of a country to smuggle drugs into the country. This has forced the security officers in the country to define laws to curtail drug smuggling and also to institute boundary patrol (Hess, &Orthmann, 2008).This will help; the police officers in identifying the people involved in drug smuggling. Like in Arizona the number of drug smugglers has increased so much as people use this route to bring drugs into the country. This has led to high number of accidents in the country. Check points that have been developed in United States Mexico boundary have helped the police officers in preventing drug smuggling but this has been impossible since the smugglers have looked for other routes which they are using to bring drugs into the country( Sheik,2005) This has forced the police officers in these borders to conduct patrols along these routes. These police officers have used investigatory stops to identify drug smugglers. This shows that the United States government allows searches and stops to be used by police officers to identifying criminals and hence prevent crimes.

The police officers are only allowed to identify suspects after they have seen a fun behavior but not relying only on race (Sheik, 2005). Race profiling has also been used in the airport to maintain security. This is because the airport authority allows the police officers in the airport to carry out search for drugs like cocaine or for any other material that is illegal. The police officers in the airport carry out searches on luggage and any other materials. This is to identify criminals thus preventing crime as no suspect can go beyond the boundaries of the airport without being noticed. Racial profiling can be used to fight terrorism although it is seen as a bad practice. This is because racial profiling allows the police officers to identify criminals or people who they suspect are involved in terrorist attacks. This can be through the strengthening of security at the airport or in the borders of the country where police in the airport and borders are allowed to carry search and make investigatory stops to identify terrorists or any criminal. This is through observation of the people’s behavior which can make the police to suspect the person to be a criminal.

 Preemptive profiling can be used in preventing crime like terrorism and drug smuggling in the country (Sheik, 2005).Although preemptive profiling is costly and it may have some harmful effects it helps in fighting crime as it allows police officers to identify criminals from the society Preemption is a very controversial way of maintaining security as it needs the people to accept loses that are associated with it and also to analyze risks. However, preemption can be used as a solution to prevent crimes by a country that is facing regular attacks and has drug smuggling issues. This is because it gives the country protection. Preemption helps a country to protect its citizens against people or criminals who don’t adhere to the rules set in the country and in the boundaries (Sheik, 2005).This makes preemptive an important practice in maintaining security in the country and also this makes race profiling an important tool to be used by law enforcement to fight crime. There is a great difference between preemption and preventing in that preemption uses specific ways to stop a threat that is believed to happen before it occurs but prevention uses ways that are only aimed at creating an atmosphere where such attacks cannot occur or a less likely to happen.

Preemption is important in a situation where the harm is about to happen and there is no enough time to develop a response to prevent the crime but for prevention a person or country has enough time to plan for better ways to prevent the crime. Another difference between preemption and prevention is that the methods used in preemption are associated with hazards and costs than the methods used in prevention (Nelson, 2003). One of the methods applied by many countries in fighting crimes like terrorism is racial profiling. Preemption can be used as a form of racial profiling. This involves identify certain behaviors in a person that make the police to suspect him to be a criminal. The police officer associates a certain group with certain traits that are based on the race or ethnicity of the group. Although associating this characteristics or criminal activities with a certain group is bad it is useful where the country sees benefit from it. If the country sees preemptive technique useful it can employ it to maintain security in the country. This practice is mostly used in countries where terrorism is high to identify people associated with terrorist activities (Neumann, 2002). This is useful and most of the countries have adopted this technique so as to keep their citizens safe. This means preemptive racial profiling is important though seen by many to be a bad practice (Nelson, 2003).

Thus preemptive technique is important if the countries want to have an advantage by fighting crime like terrorism and drug smuggling. The only problem can occur when the whole group or community is identified as criminals by using only their race or ethnicity. This effect has forced the law enforcement to find better ways or methods that can be used to screen the people in the society so as to respect their social values, faith and other important aspects of a society thus ensuring equal treatment though fighting crime. The United States department of justice has given procedures on how racial profiling should be carried out to prevent the use of race in the investigations but only to allow the police officers to use particular explanation that can include racial traits on the suspect (Muffler, 2006).


Racial profiling can be used by countries to fight crimes and also to prevent crimes thus giving security to its citizens. This is because through racial profiling police officers are able to identify people who are involved in criminal activities. Racial profiling allows the police officers to use investigatory stops, searches and also to question the people stopped. This makes it easy for police officers to identify criminals like drug smugglers and terrorist .Most of the countries have used racial profiling to prevent crime. These countries have set police patrols along their borders and they have also enhanced security at the airport. This has made the police officers to do search and stops thus identifying criminals. Preemptive technique has been used widely to prevent crimes before they happen. Though racial profiling is seen as a bad practice it is useful in fighting crime.


Gaines, L., Miller, R. (2008).Criminal Justice in Action.Edition5.Cengage Learning, page 235

Hess, K., &Orthmann, C. (2008).Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.Edition9.PublisherCengage Learning, page 1-516

Jennifer, P (2003).United states V.Arvizu.Investigatory stops and fourth amendement.Journal of criminal law and criminology.vol 93 Issue No. 4, page 1033-1056

Muffler, S. (2006).Racial profiling: issues, data, and analyses. Nova Publishers, page 47

Nelson, L. (2003).Article on the conservative case against racial profiling in the war against terrorism. Albany Law review vol 66 issue No 2, page 329

 Neumann, K. (2002).Criminal justice and law enforcement issues. Nova Publishers, page 37

Sheik, P. (2005).Article on racial profiling as a preemptive security measure after September 11.A suggested frame work for analysis. Article from Kennedy school Review 6, page 199-129


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