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The Costs Of Racial Profiling


Racial profiling is real.  Study after study tells us that people of color experience more stops while driving and more frisks in all situations than do their white counterparts.  While many law enforcement agencies recognize the problems associated with racial profiling, data indicate that the occurrences of racial profiling are rising, not declining.  If you believe racial profiling has contributed to your legal issues, having a skilled La Plata & Waldorf criminal defense attorney fighting on your behalf could prove to be invaluable.

What is Racial Profiling? 

A general definition of racial profiling is provided by the American Bar Association (ABA) , which defines it  as determining whether an individual is suspicious enough to question, stop, and/or frisk based on their apparent religion, race, or ethnicity, whether or not other dynamics warranting police intervention coincide with these factors. 

Wilkins v Maryland State Police 

In the 1990’s a D.C. attorney who was Black—Robert Wilkins– and his family were pulled over for a minor traffic violation and made to stand on the side of the Maryland interstate while drug-sniffing dogs examined the rental van. Police refused to listen to Wilkins’ respectful exhortations as to the illegality of the police search. He had not given permission, and there was no probable cause for a search. That case led to some dramatic revelations:

  • Internal State Police documents explicitly called for the targeting of African Americans;
  • Although less than 20 percent of drivers on Maryland’s interstate were black, over 70 percent of stops/searches involved Blacks.

Clearly, a problem existed in Maryland.  And through the decades, many people of color believe things have not improved much. 

Does Racial Profiling Make Communities Safer? 

Police departments have rationalized that racial profiling is an important tactic to use because it improves community safety.  They claim it allows them to put resources where they are needed most. This is contrary to studies that indicate that it actually decreases safety, for several key reasons:

  • It does not reach its intended targets;
  • It interferes with the ability of law enforcement to see crime where it is happening;
  • Innocent people of color experience inconvenience, or worse, due to unreasonable police interactions;
  • It creates distrust and resentment between communities of color and the police.

Study Shows the Fallibility of Racial Profiling

One study examined stops and searches, tabulating “hits”—successful drug, gun, or contraband confiscation—involving whites, Blacks, and Latinos.  Results were clear, if not surprising:  more hits occurred with suspects who were white than with people of color.  Certainly, one clear conclusion is that when police resources are allocated based on racial profiling, they are missing actual criminals elsewhere.

Advocating for You 

Have you been a victim of racial profiling?  Are you facing criminal charges as a result of that racial profiling?  The La Plata, Waldorf & Charles County criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A. have extensive experience in criminal defense and are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. When profiling is an issue, we know how to attack.  Schedule a confidential consultation today.



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