racial profiling | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Policing

Racial profiling is a discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of a crime or wrongdoing based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than evidence of the individual’s behavior.

Racial profiling has been a long-standing issue in law enforcement and is considered a violation of civil rights. It often results in individuals being subjected to unjustified searches, interrogations, or arrests based solely on their race or ethnicity.

Many law enforcement agencies have policies in place to prohibit racial profiling and have implemented training programs to prevent it. However, the practice still occurs, and there have been several high-profile cases of racial profiling leading to incidents of police brutality or wrongful conviction.

Critics argue that racial profiling not only violates an individual’s constitutional rights but also undermines trust between law enforcement and communities of color, making it harder for police to combat crime effectively. Efforts to address racial profiling include increased accountability and oversight of law enforcement, as well as community engagement and dialogue between police and the communities they serve.

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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