Racial Profiling Undermines Public Safety
Washington, DC, November 7, 2011
Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on “21st Century Law Enforcement: How Smart Policing Targets Criminal Behavior.” The hearing focused on racial profiling and its supposed effectiveness as a legitimate law enforcement tactic. The subcommittee heard testimony from the following witnesses:
In response to their testimony at today’s hearing , House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) made the following statement:
“Racial profiling is a poor substitute for smart policing,” said Conyers. “The basis of effective policing is the promotion of a positive relationship between law enforcement officials and the communities they aim to protect. But the specter of racial profiling has contaminated the relationship between the police and minority communities to such a degree that more than 25 states have enacted legislation to address the issue of racial profiling. If law enforcement is to do its job effectively, officers at all levels of government should be trained to focus on suspect behavior, not a person’s race, in order to better catch criminals and protect communities.
“Since I first introduced data collection legislation in 1997, I have been engaged in an effort to get to the bottom of racial profiling issues. In response to these concerns, the Department of Justice under the past two presidents and members of Congress have introduced a variety of measures designed to sanction the practice. Last session, I introduced the End Racial Profiling Act and plan to reintroduce that legislation later this month. We must put in place a data collection requirement for police stops nationwide.
“Congress must reaffirm the concept that when law-abiding citizens are treated differently by those who enforce the law simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, they are denied the basic respect and equal treatment that is the right of every American.”