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Racial Profiling in Policing

The techniques used by police in determining who to question, stop or arrest is multifaceted. Some argue that racial profiling is the primary reason all people are stopped and searched. (NAACP) Being a law enforcement officer over ten years now, I don’t believe this is a legitimate complaint. While I do believe that all officer’s have prejudices I don’t think that they are the sole reason the officer will stop a citizen. A prejudice is a judgment that is made without consideration of the specific facts involved with a particular situation. Racial profiling is synonymous with racial prejudice. In police work, officers often have a preconceived idea of specific situations. For an example, I approach a local convenience store in my beat area and notice a couple of young men on the side of the store watching towards the door. My prejudice is that they are waiting for someone to buy them alcohol. My judgment is based on nothing more than prior experience. I did not take into account any mitigating facts that are specific to their situation prior to forming my opinion. Is this an acceptable practice? I believe it is, so long as I don’t rush over and arrest them. But this is a situation where I would pay the young men special attention. I may observe them for a while and then question what they are doing on the side of the store. This is all part of the investigation process.

Racial profiling is the consideration of race in determining who to stop and investigate. While race may be a consideration in some investigations, it is certainly not a consideration in proactive policing. In 2006 Virginia reported that 62% of all arrests where white citizens, 37% where black citizens and all other races counted for less than 1%. (VSP, 2006) These numbers compared to the state population statistics of 67% white and 20% black show that equal

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