Racial profiling has always existed. It’s not the only kind of profiling law enforcement does–and it’s also not limited to law enforcement–but it’s probably the reprehensible kind of profiling. It’s also ultimately the most self-defeating. Because every instance of racial profiling undermines law enforcement’s ability to enforce the law–if one race or ethnic group is singled out for greater scrutiny, that process erodes faith in a level playing field and encourages cheating and stealing. If the law doesn’t apply to you, doesn’t protect you, why should you abide the law?
In the wake of the situation in Ferguson, MO, Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would release new guidelines that would curb racial profiling by federal law enforcement. (Note: federal law enforcement is not usually responsible for the street level racial profiling at work in, say, NYC’s “Stop, Question and Frisk” program. That’s usually local law enforcement, as was the case in Ferguson.) That a change needs to be made to the current guidelines proves that law enforcement actually relies quite a bit on profiling–it’s one of the most important, effective crime solving tools in the law enforcement arsenal. Racial profiling itself has been against the law, technically, since President George W. Bush outlawed it in 2003. But that only applied to national security cases.