Racial profiling is unconstitutional and ineffective police work.

Posted March 2013 in Civil Rights by Andrea C. Farney

When a police officer targets an individual because of the color of their skin, i.e. “racial profiling,” that officer violates the individual’s Fourteenth Amendment right.  Such unlawful conduct can be proven by circumstantial evidence concerning the officer’s behavior, all of which must prove intentional discrimination.  For example, in Pitts v. Delaware, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals described how a police officer’s various acts and omissions sufficiently supported a jury verdict on an equal protection claim.  While every situation is different, some police behaviors to watch for are a hostile attitude or derogatory comments by the officer, false reporting of the events in his police report, and failing to investigate the alleged crime in an impartial manner.  (e.g. never listening  to the accused’s explanation of what happened.) Not only is racial profiling illegal it is ineffective at catching the real perpetrator.  At the 25th Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Attorney Conference this month, Law Professor David Harris explained the research finding that we do not need to trade our civil rights for safety.  At Triquetra Law we support policy actions to reform police practices relying on racial stereotypes and biases such as the End Racial Profiling Act. 

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