Imagine yourself driving along on the freeway with your twelve year old son, on are hot Oklahoma day. As the two of you are driving you are stopped by local police, and soon allowed to continue on. But soon thereafter the two of you are stopped again, this time the stop is not so short. The officer asks you to step out of the vehicle so that he may search it for drugs. While your car is being searched you and your son are forced to sit in an extremely hot squad car and wait for two hours until the officers finished searching. The only reason it seemed for the stop was because you were black. If this were you, you are Sergeant First Class Rossano V. Gerald, and were just a victim of what is known as “racial profiling.” Some may not be aware of this, but Sergeant First Class Gerald and his son’s Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. In the United States Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment is “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,” (Gaines, Kappeler, p. 5). Racial profiling occurs whenever a law enforcement officer questions, stops, arrests, searches, or otherwise investigates a person because the officer believes that members of that person’s racial or ethnic group are more likely to commit the sort of crime the officer is investigating (Gross, Livingston, p. 1415, 2002). Racial profiling often occurred during the late 1960s when police officers would use traffic stops as means for detention of black activists during the civil rights era. However, it has just recently become a “hot” topic in the last ten years. In this paper I will be talking about various court cases involving possible racial profiling, crime statistics that favor the police officers involved, and also statistics that favor the victims who are being victimized.
Argument, Data, and Issues
“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery…and then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” – Reverend Jesse Jackson, (Trende, p.331, 2000).
The argument of this paper is to use data to show that racial profiling is bad, and it often does violate the victim’s Fourth Amendment Rights, however, more often than not, it does lead to arrests and big drug busts.
Today, most people think of racial profiling as white cops profiling blacks. However, one of the worst racial profiling incidents in the United States’ history began on February 19, 1942, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the Secretary of War the power to order over 110,000 Japanese Americans on the West coast to be “resettled” in “relocation centers” for the duration of the war (Gross, Livingston, p.1424, 2002). However, most cases in today’s battle on racial profiling are not nearly as extreme as that example.
One fairly recent case of racial profiling occurred on one hot August day in 1998, as Sergeant First Class Rossano V. Gerald, along with his twelve year old son, was driving his red Nissan 300 ZX across the Oklahoma border and was stopped twice by police officers, and was searched once. Troopers pulled Gerald over the second time for failing to signal a lane change and the troopers claimed that evidenced behavior rose to a level of reasonable suspicion, which justified further detention. The plaintiffs argued that Gerald and his son were forced to sit in a sweltering hot squad car while officers ransacked their automobile for two hours. They also maintain that the stop and search only occurred because Gerald and his son were black. While on the other hand the defendants stated that during the course of the stop, the state troopers developed a