Description of the Problem
“Racial profiling punishes innocent individuals for the past actions of those who look and sound like them. It misdirects crucial resources and undercuts the trust needed between law enforcement and the communities they serve. It has no place in our national discourse, and no place in our nation’s police departments” (Jealous, 2013) Racial profiling has been a constant issue in the Criminal Justice system for a lot of years.
“Racial profiling refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” (Definition by the American Civil Liberties Union). Even though racial profiling occurs around the country, I will be focusing my intervention on racial profiling by law enforcement in New York because this is a state where there is diversity of people and one of the places where racial disparity occurs the most. Racial profiling has different causes and reasons but something they all have in common is that all of these reasons include the presence of law enforcement. Brian N. Williams, an associate professor of Public Administration and Policy at The University of Georgia states how “Biased policing exists when an individual’s race is used as an illegitimate factor for initiating police actions against the individual” (Williams, 2013)
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One of the reasons to why racial profiling happens is because a lot of officers feel pressured to contribute and produce crime reducing statistics and also because for a lot of people in power it is more important and they value more efficacy over constitutionality. Another given factor that contributes to racial inequity is the idea that minorities are the main residents of high crime areas and neighborhoods and this causes police officers to be tougher on crime and target mainly minorities. In an interview with the New York Police Department, Andres Garcia reported that, “Trained as they are in high crime areas, and taught that they are there to bring down crime, officers feel pressured to produce numbers and statistics, and therefore engage in stop-and-frisk practices at a disproportionate rate in these impact zones” (Garcia, 2013), these zones that are inhabited by minorities. Another reason of why racial disparities happen is because of implicit biases. Implicit biases are defined as “the stereotypes and prejudices that reside and operate in our mind outside of our conscious awareness” (Glaser, 2014).
Implicit biases encourage racial profiling to run rampant and even though we think we don’t possess and are aware of these biases and stereotypes, the reality is that they are present in our unconscious mind. Even though implicit biases are a factor of racial profiling, explicit biases also contribute to this disparity. Explicit biases are defined as “the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level” (Definition by the Perception Institute). There are some people that are aware about their beliefs and stereotypes against minorities and against those victims of racial differences. In addition, something that influences the presence of racial profiling unfortunately is what a lot of people call the abundance of black crime. This abundance of black crime is however, “far from being a novel bit of truth-telling, the argument that black crime is the cause of reactionary policing is among the aged and easily refuted clichés of American racial history” (Cobb, 2014). When it comes to racial profiling, minorities are the most affected population.
Specially blacks and latinos are mostly targeted by law enforcement when driving or when doing stop and frisk stops. “An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics.” (New York Civil Liberties Union). Other data shows how in 2012, racial minorities accounted for 92% of all stop-and-frisk incidents. In the first half of 2018, 5,064 in the New York Police Department were recorded. The results showed how 3,465 (68%) of these stops were totally innocent, 2,924 (58%) were black, 1,572 (31%) were Latino and 445 of these stops (9%) were white. These studies also recorded how nine out of ten of the stopped and frisked New Yorkers have been totally innocent. It is important to know that in New York, the neighborhoods with the greatest racial disparity between the race of people stopped and the racial makeup of the residents are most of the time white neighborhoods, with the only exception of Chinatown.
Some of these neighborhoods include the Upper East Side, Greenwich Village and Upper West Side. An example that shows this disparity is part of the Upper East Side since it recorded the highest level of racial disparity in 2015 with a score of 31.41. In other words, out of the 278 stops conducted, nearly half were against black residents, even though they make up a 2.3% of the whole population.
Racial profiling by law enforcement in New Jersey is the criminal justice problem that will become the focus of the program/intervention that I will design. Because racial profiling is a worldwide problem, a lot of agencies have created and designed evaluations and interventions to find solutions to eliminate or reduce the amount of problems caused by law enforcements and their racial profiling. The first evaluation analyzed was by Joel Miller (Miller, 2010). This study examined a set of reforms to stop and search policies by the government, police forces and police authorities. The reform measures explained by Miller in this article included 1) the completion and provision of written forms to people stopped and searched at the time. Also 2) supervisory and managerial attention to stop and search patterns. The third measure would be 3) the use of internal force databases to help track and identify problematic search patterns. Last but not least 4) the sharing of analyses and statistics with communities. To continue, the second evaluation analyzed was by Joel Miller (Miller 2016). This report explained how a range of evidence indicates that Spanish police engages in ethnic profiling.
The reforms were the following: reduced stop and search rates, because officers became more selective in their use of these tactic and reduced levels of disproportionality in stops, suggesting reductions in ethnic profiling by police. In addition, the third intervention discussed was by Charles Wilson, Shirley Wilson, Harsh Luthar and Malinda Bridges (Wilson. C, Wilson. S, Luthar and Bridges, 2013). This study analyzed how law enforcement agencies determine different levels of representation of racial minorities in the law enforcement profession and how they also identify the marketing strategies being used during recruitment campaigns to locate, attract, and hire racial minorities to sworn positions. All of these reforms were with the purpose of reducing racial profiling in and by law enforcement. Furthermore, the fourth intervention related to racial profiling was by Fridell, L (Fridell, 2007). This report was about with racial bias and practices by the San Francisco Police Department. These interventions included a solid anti-bias policy, diversity among sworn personnel, the adoption of community policing principles, and the collection of vehicle stop data. Moreover, the fifth evaluation analyzed was by Rosanne M. Sizer and Dan Saltzman (Sizer and Saltzman, 2009).
This article refers to how the Portland Police Bureau has been actively working with the community to address racial profiling. In this intervention about 45 Portland police officers and 267 community members participated, and dozens of recommendations were made. One recommendation was that the Police Bureau should draft a plan to address racial profiling. The strategies and approaches to help solve the issue are the following. Strategy number one was to create a Bureau that reflects the city’s diversity. Strategy number two was to give officers concrete skills to help them on the streets. The third strategy was to reach out to the community to build mutual trust and understanding. Lastly, strategy number four was to collect and analyze the right data on police stops. Finally, the sixth intervention discussed was by Jack McDevitt, Amy Farrell and Russell Wolff (McDevitt, Farrell and Wolff, 2008). This study refers to strategies implemented by the COPS Office to assist agencies develop and enhance organizational integrity and accountability in policing.
Strategy areas included implementing early intervention systems, command staff integrity training, data collection to prevent racial profiling, etc. To start with, the police department has been incorporating community policing into the agency, engaging the community at District Task Force meetings and through a policy requiring all sworn and civilian members of the department to attend at least one neighborhood meeting per year. In addition, the department also made efforts toward building integrity, including the creation of a citizen complaint board and review process, improvement of recruiting and hiring practices to increase the diversity of the department and reduce racial profiling.
All of these strategies have been previously applied and they all have been efficient and successful when reducing racial profiling. These interventions relate back to the community and to regaining their trust in law enforcement. They all give us answers about what is not being effective, what is not being fair and how police officers use their discretion making them more biased towards black than white people. These interventions show how solutions and reforms such as training, checking on officers, checking on the community and performing routine analysis of data to name a few can have a positive effect in fixing the trust in police by communities and the hope that the problem about racial profiling will be reduced. Last but not least they provide us with ideas that will reduce disproportionality and increase the effectiveness when it comes to trying to eradicate racial profiling. The interventions more appropriated to the setting I have chosen are the first, the third and the fifth interventions because they refer to issues such as discretion, the necessity for diversity in law enforcement and community’s trust and understanding.
My intervention will be focused on law enforcements because in my opinion law enforcement is responsible for high rates of racial profiling. My purpose with this intervention is to reform law enforcement by including new policies and reforms and using the previous intervention realized to eradicate racial profiling once and for all. Police officers are responsible for the high numbers and unfortunate events in where racial disparities are the focus. They target minorities and specially blacks and latinos when making vehicle stops or stop and frisk stops. My intervention will focus on new policies and requirements that need to be incorporated effective immediately in the New York Police Department. My intervention will be focused on eliminating those factors that contribute to the presence of racial profiling. To deal with officers feeling pressured to produce crime-reducing statistics they will be required to do a psychological test every month to see how they are dealing with the pressure that the job brings. Those police officers that show sign of the presence of implicit bias will be forced to attend a psychological consult every two weeks to find solutions to avoid those implicit biases from affecting their judgment when doing their job. Another factor that contributes to racial disparities is that minorities are residents of high crime “impact zones” which triggers police officers to be harsher on reducing crime targeting black and latinos.
To avoid this factor, it is important to solve the problem once and for all and not just deal with it. To solve this issue, instead of being harsh on crime on these hot spots, the police department has to provide more support to eliminate high crime rates. Instead of doing vehicle stops and stop and frisk stops, police officers will have to make stops but to ask these residents if they need help, if they have homes or jobs. Helping these individuals with new opportunities to obtain jobs, to better their lifestyle will help them get on the right track and decrease these hot spots areas where innocent people are being stopped, targeted and racial profiled. Another cause of racial profiling as mentioned before is the “abundance” of black crime which as mentioned before it is just a cliché. Police officers need to receive lessons and they need to learn that there is no abundance of crime. Because of these misperceptions, my intervention will also provide weekly training on stereotypes, racism and discrimination against minorities, especially black and latinos. Another part of my intervention will include a new policy which will be called the 3 strikes law. This policy will state that after three unjust/unjustified stop and frisk stops or vehicle stops officers will be suspended for a week without being paid and they will have to do a hundred (100) hours of community service.
As mentioned before I will also be incorporating some of the reforms included in the interventions analyzed before. My intervention will also include the reforms incorporated by Joel Miller in (Miller, 2010). These reforms are 1) the completion and provision of written forms to people stopped and searched at the time, 2) supervisory and managerial attention to stop and search patterns, 3) the use of internal force databases to help track and identify problematic search patterns and 4) the sharing of analyses and statistics with communities. The reforms mentioned by Charles Wilson, Shirley Wilson, Harsh Luthar and Malinda Bridges in (Wilson. C, Wilson. S, Luthar and Bridges, 2013) will also be of great influence in my intervention. These are to locate, attract, and hire racial minorities to sworn positions in the New York Police Department. Lastly, the interventions by Rosanne M. Sizer and Dan Saltzman in (Sizer and Saltzman, 2009) will be a part of my intervention. These include a system that reflects the city’s diversity, give officers concrete skills to help them on the streets, reach out to the community to build mutual trust and understanding and collect and analyze the right data on police stops to see if the intervention is offering positive outcomes.
A mechanism provides an explanation of how my intervention will produce change, for example changing how people behave by changing choices, consequences, skills or motivations. My intervention will definitely trigger mechanisms and will provide change in choices, consequences, skills and motivations. The first mechanism that my intervention will trigger is mentality. The mentality of police officers, their ideas and beliefs are the main cause of why racial profiling exists. Their mentality affects their choices and if their mentality is changed, their choices and their way of acting in certain situations will change. In this case if they change their mentality about racism, discrimination, stereotypes and biases their mentality before making stops will be different. Before making a stop and frisk or vehicle stop they will stop themselves and analyze what is best to do according to the safety of citizens and their duty to protect everyone regardless of their race. The second mechanism that will be triggered by my intervention will be the stereotypes. If police officers are educated and are trained on how to deal with stereotypes, this will produce a change in their way to policing and the way they use their skills.
They won’t be driven by stereotypes and their biases to stop black or latinos people, they will only focus on doing what is right and making sure justice prevails and that everyone’s civil rights are protected. The third mechanism that my intervention will provoke a change is the discretion in police officers. Giving officers training, supervising stop and search patterns, tracking and identifying search patterns and communicating with the community will definitely provoke a chance in how police officers use their discretion and it will help them be fair and just when using their discretion to choose what to do when stopping minorities. Officers’ discretion will be reformed in my intervention because fairness and rightfully stops depend on it. Last but not least, the fourth mechanism that my intervention will trigger is trust, especially communities’ trust in law enforcement. Showing the community how law enforcement is being reformed to eradicate law enforcement will help them gain trust in the people that are supposed to take care of their safety. Involving communities in analyses and statistics being analyzed by the police department will help communities realize how something is being done about the racial equity issue. Communities will notice how police officers are being offered training and help to deal with stereotypes, racism and biases that affect how they are supposed to do their job and to avoid having all of the consequences that arise when in presence of racial profiling.
Problems are not always spread out evenly, but often concentrate on particular people or settings. Following the 80-20 rule, in theory 20 percent of some things are responsible for 80 percent of the outcomes, in practice, it is seldom exactly 80–20, but it is always a small percentage of something or some group involved in a large percentage of some result. For my intervention, the way I will identify and target people, places and places will be through historical distributions of behaviors, specifically crime hotspots. I will use New York crime hotspots to choose what communities’ police departments and police officers need reform and change immediately.
The project will be presented to the NY Police Departments as part of The Racial Justice Program’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling. The project will be carried out by The Racial Justice Program and the police departments, an association between the two will be leading the project/intervention. In the project, we will have the participation of the communities selected (according to the crime hotspots) and professionals who will be offering the necessary training and consults. To make this project a success the collaboration of police, communities, professionals and agencies will be required. Anyone who can provide help and support to this project will be responsible for having successful outcomes and the complete eradication of racial profiling.
Racial profiling is an issue that has been present in our Criminal Justice for years. A lot of interventions and reforms have been presented and have been implemented to try to eradicate the problem. Racial profiling targets minorities, specially blacks and latinos. These minorities are being stopped, incarcerated and treated unjust for no reasons. They are victims of biases and stereotypes present in police departments and police officers. I hope my intervention will provoke a chance and I hope that along with other interventions it eradicates the problem once and for all.
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Description of the Problem. (2019, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/description-of-the-problem/