NEW JERSEY STATE

NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE RACIAL PROFILING SEAN SILVERS PROF. ROMANO 11/6/00 Racial profiling is a law enforcement strategy that encourages police officers to stop and question African Americans simply because of their race. Although not raised as a major issue in the courtroom during the trial of the four police officers who shot Amadou Diallo (who were acquitted in February), racial profiling is often employed by police, officially and unofficially, and was likely a factor in the police shooting of Diallo. Racial profiling took off during the highly publicized explosion of crack cocaine in inner-city neighborhoods in the 1980s, which bolstered the perception of drugs as a black problem — even though statistics showed most cocaine users were white. Drug enforcement agencies began using racial profiling to “sweep” neighborhoods and in arresting disproportionate numbers of African Americans for drug related offenses. A profile of potential drug users and sellers was developed to assist policemen in picking out and questioning likely offenders. These profiles continue to be used by law enforcement in combating crime. Recent high profile cases and studies of racial profiling in New Jersey and Maryland prompted Congress to introduce the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act of 1999, directing Attorney General Janet Reno to conduct a nationwide study of the race of drivers who are stopped by law enforcement. Congress is expected to vote on the bill later this year. The current debate on racial profiling has been tied to allegations of police brutality and institutional racism. In response to one shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer, video cameras were installed in police cruisers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. A four-year investigation of alleged police brutality in Montgomery County by the Department…

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