How racial profiling affects law enforcement agencies

July 13, 2017


The paper introduces by giving the definition and explanation of the term racial profiling in the context of law enforcement. Later in the paper some of the effects of racial profiling on the law enforcement agencies are discussed. Such effects which are discussed below are: the violation of the human rights by the law enforcement agencies, development of mistrust between the police and the communities thus making the investigation work of the police on the crime hard and thus reduction of its effectiveness, unsound policing by the law enforcement agencies and break up of the police and community relation ship. Concluding the paper some possible solution to end the effect of the racial profiling are discussed.

Unbiased data collection at the police stops has been found to be the only way out.

Racial Profiling

The term racial profiling in our case means an action of law enforcement that is based on individual’s ethnicity, race, or national origin, instead of the behavior of the person or a reliable source of information that shows the person is guilty of having engaged in a criminal activity. In other words we can say that, racial profiling will take place when the law enforcement agencies tend to depend on ethnicity, race, religion or national origin to make decisions onto whom the law should and should not to be applied to for criminal investigation. This kind of act has been found to go against or violate the international human rights treaties, where in the United States it has been found to violate the laws. Racial profiling goes beyond direct victims to negatively causing effects to all communities of color of all income and generation.

It undermines the criminal justice system of legitimacy, and impedes the policing effectiveness in society that the society needs the most. In a number of jurisdictions racial profiling has been monitored, and out of these entire jurisdictions racial profiling has been discovered to be of great problem in communities especially the working of law enforcement agencies (Cohen, 2003, p. 208).

Racial profiling or biased policing since 1990s has been issues of great concern to the media, public and the courts allover the world. Some reported prominent cases in courts from the traffic stops and the extra use of force arose from the both criminal and civil law suits. Most of the cases in the courts were based on the analysis of statistics of the data from the traffic stops which where categorized in terms of races, thus resulting into the enforcement of the law racially. Many of the first studies were in their nature rudimentary, and brought in a wide conclusion which greatly affected the trust of the public in the police as it will be discussed later in this paper. From the law enforcement agencies, some of the cases in the courts led to the justice department carrying out investigations and resulted into the entering of the consent decrees. According to the international law and treaties, and the constitution of the United States, every individual has the fundamental to be guarded by the law without considering the persons ethnic group, or the nation of origin. Racial profiling insidiously affects the rights of humans that can have effect on the people in both the private and the public places. Also violates the human rights in their places of work and home, while working, driving or walking. Racial profiling has got effect on the law-abiding citizens together with the offenders. People without having committed any crime are stopped by the police, searched and questioned for a reason that would not even lead to the citizens of different color to be stopped (Brewer, 1995, p. 143).

Not only do racial profiling subordinate the entire community civil rights but also it has become a tool that is ineffective in the prevention of crimes. Racial profiling goes to extend of victimizing the people who it is supposed to take care of and protect. For example, in a society that is dedicated to equal ideal justice under the society’s law, racial profiling leads to one group in the society to tolerate desperate treatment due to their skin color is abhorrent positive. In relation to effective policing, racial profiling bars and violates the civil rights to be exercised in the community.

From data that have been collected up to this moment out of public opinion poll, and testimonies indicates that racial profiling widely allover the world is the greatest violator of the civil rights, as it warrants the monitoring of agencies and officers in the law enforcement agencies (Peterson, 1999, p.76).

Among the targeted members in a community or nation racial profiling in law enforcement instills distrust and fear, making the people not to be much wiling to get involved in the investigation of criminal acts carried out by the police within their community or the nation. The individuals also develop fear to extend of not seeking any police assistance in case they are victimized. Researches indicate that when police are carrying out investigation and they tend to focus on race, they forget to consider the actual criminal behavior. This police behavior is an act that can put into danger the law enforcement agencies effectiveness eventually resulting to endangering the life of peoples who rely on the law enforcement agencies for ensuring justice and protection in their community or nation (Cohen, 2003, p. 205).

The racial profiling leads to police and the people mistrust and thus limiting the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies. Communities of color require policing that is effective. The people of color have got higher possibility to be termed as crime victims. These people require protection that the effective police workers offer where as the police wishes to perform their work effectively. The developed mistrust between the police and the color communities put into frustration this goal as the people are not willing to report any crime committed in their residence to help the police investigate the committed crime. The eradication and investigation of racial profiling serves the communities of color and police common interest (Cohen, 2003, p. 210).

For the law enforcement agencies, racial profiling leads to unsound policing. Racial profiling is an inefficient method that is applied by the law enforcement agencies. One justification for traditional enforcement of the law for racial profiling in the police searches and stops is that it makes sense to search and stop communities of color in large numbers, as it is argued out that they have higher probability of trafficking drugs. The main reason as to why the people of color are arrested more of drug trafficking issues is not that they are the only who smuggle or traffic illegal drugs but it is because the rate in which they are stopped and searched is higher than that of the whites. In case a government of a country sets its goals to eliminate trade of illegal drugs in its country and the racial profiling continue to be practiced, the goal of the government may not be fully achieved. When on one tribe of community is targeted by the police for the stops and searches the other community will take that advantage and increases the trade of the illegal drugs with its country and even outside the country. Therefore, out of such kind if policing by the law enforcement agencies tend to be unsound as it is only one category of race that is targeted in controlling the trafficking the drugs.

The other race will bring in the illegal drugs and thus the control of such drugs into countries will never end. Racial profiling greatly interferes with the relationship between the community and the police. The community of color stops its reliance on the police and terms the police as their first enemies as the only thing they can do to them is to search for crimes they have committed and if it is not there the police victimizes them for crimes which they have not committed at all. Their relations also end as a result of biased stops on the transport system to be searched of criminal acts (Free, 2003, p. 263).

To conclude this paper I propose some of the policies which can be adopted to curb the problem on some of racial profiling effect on law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies to address the issue of racial profiling need to collect the data on drivers of all races at the stops, as well as those characters which are related to the stop. The collection of the data is very important in the identification of the problem and giving the way forward towards the elimination of the profiling problem for both as a practice of the institutionalized policy department and the officers. Data collection for this case should not be indented for the study and should not be perceived as something that hinders the implementation racial profiling solutions. The data collection should be viewed as part of providing solution to the problem. The data categories will be necessary be included into the date for efficient analysis. It is from such categories where it will be concluded that not all people of a given color commits criminal offences. The ongoing data collection acts as a monitoring tool towards the protection of the civil rights and also ensures that the law enforcement agencies achieve their goal and objectives. The law enforcement agencies should indentify and address problems in an effective way to stop racial profiling (Korgen, 2002, p. 174).

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Brewer Neil, 1995. Psychology and Policing. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; pp. 143

Cohen Carl, 2003. Affirmative Action and Racial Preferences: A Debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press; pp. 205, 208, 210

Free Marvin, 2003. Racial Issues in Criminal Justice: The Case of African Americans, Mahwah, NJ: Praeger; pp. 263

Korgen Kathleen, 2002. Crossing the Racial Divide: Close Friendship between Black and White Americans. Mahwah, NJ: Praeger; pp. 174

Peterson Marilyn, 1999. Application in Criminal Analysis: A Sourcebook. Mahwah, NJ: Praeger; pp. 76

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