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Research Paper - PAG E | 1 Racial Profiling in Minnesota...

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P A G E | 1 Racial Profiling in Minnesota Police Stops Every year, Minneapolis police officers alone make over 54,000 traffic stops. But in 2002, the number of minority drivers that were pulled over reached 29,614. That is almost half of the total police stops, and draws special attention since minority drivers only account for 30.3% of the driving population of Minneapolis (“Minnesota Statewide Racial Profiling Report: Minneapolis Police Department” 16-17). This information asks the question “Are Minnesota police officers racially profiling?” Racial profiling is defined as “any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or nation origin rather than the behavior of an individual or information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity” (“Institute on Race and Poverty”). To put simply, police officers make traffic stops sometimes not based on violations of the law, but the color of driver’s skin. This action of racial profiling does not just happen in Minnesota, but across the country as well as the entire world. Recently, forty-six states in the United States became aware of this issue and participated in a data collection experiment to find out exactly if racial profiling is taking place in police stops (“Data Collection Resource Center”). The findings, though controversial, can offer a better understanding of this worldwide issue as a whole. Racial profiling in police traffic stops in the late 1970’s and 1980’s as a way for police officers to quickly identify drug traffickers. In 1985, “Operation Pipeline”, ran by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), began. This operation trained local and state police in applying a drug trafficker profile as a technique to reduce the drug market
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P A G E | 2 in America. This profile “included evidence of concealment in the vehicle, indications of fast, point-to-point driving, as well as the age- and race characteristics of the probable drivers” (“Data Collection Resource Center”). Sometimes this technique was distorted and officers began targeting drivers that were of color for simple technical violations as a way to search them for drugs. Even though this started thirty years ago, racial profiling in traffic stops is still an issue in today’s society. Everyday people are pulled over for “driving-while-Black” or “driving-while-Brown”, simply implying that it is in some way a crime for a person of color to drive. In fact, even though Blacks are only about eighteen percent of Minneapolis’ total population, they account for thirty-seven percent of traffic stops. White people, on the other hand, who add up to sixty-five percent of the total population, accounted for only forty-three percent of the city’s traffic stops (Kersten 41).
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