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What is racial profiling?

Filed under FAQs, Racial Profiling on March 1, 2011

FAQs About Racial Profiling

What is racial profiling?

Racial profiling is a term used to describe when police or other law enforcement officials single out a person or group of people as “potential suspects” based on their race or ethnicity.

Police often are accused of using racial profiling in “stop and frisk” practices.?Ǭ If police stop a pedestrian or driver to randomly question them, perform impromptu frisks , or vehicle searches based on the persons’?Ǭ race or ethnicity it is racial profiling.

Racial profiling is a violation of your constitutional rights but many police departments either encourage racial profiling, do little to discourage it, or, worse – sanction racial profiling as being necessary. [Racial Profiling and Your Constitutional Rights]

What are some examples of racial profiling by police?

A few examples of racial profiling by police include:

  • An African American man standing on a corner waiting for a bus is stopped and questioned why he is standing there and where he is going.
  • An Hispanic driver is stopped in a “white” neighborhood because he “doesn’t belong there” or “looks out of place.”
  • A group of black teenagers are pulled over because of the kind of car they are driving.
  • Any person of col or stopped for minor traffic violations and then questioned about where there are going, or if they have illegal drugs or weapons in their possession.

Racial profiling is also used as a basis of discrimination for employment, services, housing, etc., or to give preferential treatment to an individual or group of people because of their race or ethnicity.

Is racial profiling a problem in New Jersey?

New Jersey has passed laws making racial profiling by police a crime that is punishable by up to a five years in prison and $15,000 fine.?Ǭ Training practices discourage racial profiling, and state oversight holds officers accountable.?Ǭ However, even in states that aggressively seek to end racial profiling, the practice continues.

How common is racial profiling in Pennsylvania?

In Philadelphia, PA, the practice of racial profiling has been the subject of ongoing debate and, as of November 2010, a class action lawsuit.?Ǭ Mayor Michael Nutter considers racial profiling a necessary practice and “ crime fighting strategy.”

In 2009 in Philadelphia, there were 253,691 stops made by police using racial profiling as one method of “law enforcement.”?Ǭ More than 183,000, or 72.2 percent of people stopped, were African American. Only 8.4 percent of the 253,691 stops led to an arrest.

Mayor Nutter defends his position on the use of racial profiling to “protect African American” people;?Ǭ ?Ǩ?They forget just how bad it was in 2005 and 2006 and 2007 when Black males were killing each other almost every day. I said we had to have a commitment to lowering the violence in the Black community.”

New Jersey and Pennsylvania Civil Rights Attorney – Racial Profiling by Police

Unfortunately, even though New Jersey has strongly worded laws, state oversight, and training programs to discourage racial profiling, it still happens throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

If you were subjected to targeting by racial profiling by police or state troopers based on your race or ethnicity our attorneys want to help. Contact our law offices today for a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced civil rights attorney. We will explain your civil rights, and any legal remedies that may be available to you.


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