Problems of Racial Profiling in the Police Force

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Racial Profiling

The journey of black studies positions, (2015) What is racial profiling? Moreover, what is its effect on small police agencies and the African American police officers employed by them? While there are several differing definitions, most provide only the slightest possible information plausible, leading one often, and inappropriately, to identify this spectacle in terms that are rapidly condemned and denied. However, racial profiling is the use of race as the principal or critical factor used by the police for stopping, questioning, searching, or arresting someone, rather than the use of “reasonable suspicion.” Now more frequently referred to as bias-based policing, it is a problem that has continuously weakened attempts to build better relationships between police and the community, principally communities of color. Studies have shown that as many as 21% of serving police officers believe that it is actively practiced, and likely excused, by members of their department.

In the article by Charles P. Wilson1, Shirley A. Wilson 2, and Malan Valuations of the effect and influence of biased-based (2015), states It is also clear that the practice of racial profile policing, whether by strategy, oversight, personal bias, or failures in policy or measures, has become a threat on communities of color in near widespread magnitudes, in both large and small jurisdictions. It is an influx that can be severely lessened through precise determination. We, unfortunately, live in a troubled and somewhat imperfect world, filled with individual intellectual insights of race, culture, power, and social structure. The disruption of race and police-community relations has become a substantial interest where smaller law enforcement agencies are troubled. Nonetheless, all believe, as did the creators of our country, in the concepts of equal justice for all, and, it is through this framework that racial profiling policing will find its just and merited conclusion.

Policy research in police studies is pertinent because policy represents one way in which police discretion may be measured or at least influenced (Davis, 1971; Klinger, 2004). Police agencies have responded to several current policing disagreements by implementing compliance regimes to direct officer behavior.

Two types of police action—deadly force and arrest—have received the most policy attention in organizational efforts to direct police behavior. Traffic stops, the locus of the racial profiling controversy, have not yet received the same experiential analysis to understand whether the policy has any outcome on traffic stop practices.

Racial profiling presents a fertile field to observe police policy and practice because it exists at the linking of crime control efforts and questions of police practice, fairness, and accountability. Granting many politicians cannot afford to appear to be soft on crime, legislative efforts to address public concerns about racial profiling by police have met with broad support as numerous state police agencies have accepted anti-profiling measures, many of which have been organized by legislative action (Hickman, 2005). The likelihood that legislative policies are put into action by police departments, however, is uncertain.

This is primarily due to a universal hesitancy on the part of police organizations, their leadership, and rank and file toward reform efforts (Skolnick & Bayley, 1986). As Jennies and Grattet (2005) describe the context of policy adoption decisions by LEAs, “the ‘pro-innovation’ bias at the policymaking stage often crashes with ’anti-innovation’ bias of law enforcers” (p. 338). As such, there is a good reason to expect that the police department may vary in the move to implement their policy directives that define what racial profiling is or how their officers should work hard to circumvent it.

The author addresses this conceivable gap by examining the organizational dynamics of police agencies as interpreters of the adoption of innovative anti-racial profiling policy using data on large LEAs from the 2003 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Data (LEMAS) survey. Institutional data about LEAs are combined with structural data that describe essential features of the jurisdictional environment thought to influence agency-level policy formation. The study tests a set of predictions that highlight the standing of the environment, including community demand and threat hypotheses, along with organizational expectations for understanding agency-level policy acceptance.

Policy as a Management Tool

One of the leading motives that consultants, policymakers, and the public may be interested in strategy is that it represents one of the primary tools by which challenging police behavior may be controlled or otherwise improved. Study on the effects of policy on police discretion is insufficient, despite the status of discretion in contemporary controversies associated with officers. Crossing such diverse arenas as police use of deadly force (Fyfe, 1979, 1988; White, 2001), the handling of routine traffic stops (Elite, 2005; Sherman & Berk, 1984), drug crime enforcement (Jenness & Grattet, 2005; King, 2007), drunk driving enforcement (Mastrofski & Ritti, 1992; Mastrofski, Ritti, & Hoff master, 1987; Mastrofski, Ritti, & Snipes, 1994), and racial profiling (Schultz & Withrow, 2004), the effects of policy on police discretion is still not well understood.

When it comes to racial profiling, some have expressed concern that policies designed to address racial profiling may be met with confrontation. For instance, Schultz and Withrow propose that such policy may isolate police personnel, contributing to police skepticism and decreasing police productivity in traffic enforcement, particularly in minority communities. Their breakdown of review responses from a small sample of Michigan LEAs, however, showed that the de-policing effects of racial profiling policies were small to nonexistent.

Police Association and Policy

Institutional theory (Crank & Lang worthy, 1992) leads folks to accept that police organizational behavior may reflect influences aside from rationality and the bureaucratic objective of productivity. Instead, the institutional theory provides the basis to expect that organizational form and approach frequently reflect the values and beliefs espoused by powerful actors in the situation. Such actors are powerful because they can influence resource allocation and the administrative life of the agency in the setting. Organizational validity is secured by police organizations when they develop organizational structure and operational policies that conform to conventional wisdom held by commissioners about the institutional atmosphere of police departments.

Crank and Langworthy’s (1992) article assert that modern police organizations are likely to experience periodic misfortunes of legality because of the difficulty of environmental demands on the police. In the case of racial profiling, administrators may exercise influence on police policy based on their assumptions about police agency operations and personnel. The nature of the outcome (i.e., whether it manifests in terms of a racial profiling policy) depends on those factors that influence the step to which administrators form and apply conventional wisdom about the use of racial profiling as a police practice and whether or not it is either needed or proper in pursuit of the police job.

Racial profiling has become an issue that is concerned by legitimacy issues among local police departments (Tyler & Wakslak, 2004). In the language of Crank and Lang worthy (1992), it represented a legitimation crisis for local law enforcement and the police industry. They argue that organizational response to crises of legitimacy should be mostly traditional, as agencies develop “structures and policies that show to administrators the organization is responding to the fight” (p. 355). To some degree, this claim may be deep-rooted from a quick review of the discourse evident in professional policing circles.


Racial profiling is about racism and stereotypes and assuming the worst of individuals based on a biased insight of reality that is then projected and reproduced, affecting and compromising every one of that same race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

It is also the practice of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or national basis by law enforcement representatives as a factor in deciding whom to check, arrest or delay absent evidence of a precise crime or criminal conduct (Rushing,2019). Starting in the 1990s, researchers have studied the racial profiling existence. Still, experiential studies of racial profiling have shaped mixed outcomes. While some researchers have claimed that racial discrimination is universal and deeply rooted throughout the criminal justice system, and others have sustained that intentional discrimination does not exist, the experimental representation is more complicated.


  1. Glover. Karen. (2007). California State University, San Marcos Journey of black studies Volume: 23 issue: 3, page(s): 239-247 Issue published: August 1, 2007
  2. Wilson, Charles 1, Shirley A. Wilson 2, Malan, (2015). Journal of Black Studies (J BLACK STUD). Publisher: SAGE Publications

Cite this paper

Problems of Racial Profiling in the Police Force. (2021, Feb 05). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/problems-of-racial-profiling-in-the-police-force/

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