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Is racial profiling destroying trust between police and citizens?

You can barely turn on the news in today's world without hearing about an incident between police and minorities, and everyone has an opinion about what happened and how it should be handled. While it may seem cut and dry when you watch the videos online, the reality is often far different than it appears to be. Law enforcement is charged with protecting the people and preserving the peace, but research shows there is huge lack of trust between minorities and law enforcement officers.

What is racial profiling?

If an officer targets a person for suspicion of a crime because of the person's national origin, religion, ethnicity or race, it is racial profiling. This can be anything from using race to decide which pedestrians to search for drugs to using color to determine who to pull over for minor traffic violations. If the color of your skin is part of the reason you were pulled over for a burned-out headlight, you may be dealing with racial profiling.

Racial profiling is not limited to just police officers. Any person working in a policing capacity for private or public purposes can racially profile. Security guards, airline pilots who remove passengers because of their ethnicity and airport security agents are all included under the law enforcement heading.

Proof of racial profiling?

Recently, researchers from Stanford University analyzed data from millions of traffic stops, and found that police in some states are more likely to stop and search Hispanic and black motorists than they are white drivers. This statistic is problematic because the study also found that those searches were less likely to uncover anything illegal in the vehicle.

Some who are racially profiled may walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist or a traffic ticket with a small fine. For others, the consequences can be deadly if the situation escalates and officers use lethal force. As these incidents get more media attention when they occur, minorities may be less likely to feel they can turn to police for the protection they deserve. This may make those who are victims of a crime hesitant to report it.

Know your civil rights

When you are dealing with police, whether you have committed the crime or not, you deserve the same respect that any other individual with a different color skin would get. If you feel you have been treated unfairly by police and been a victim of racial profiling, consult an attorney immediately.

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