Racial profiling isn't the problem the Left claims it is - Jay Maynard

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Thursday, 22 September 2005


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0940 - Racial profiling isn't the problem the Left claims it is

The New York Times published a front-page article on August 24 accusing the Justice Department of hiding a study purportedly showing that racial profiling in traffic stops was still a major problem. Now, in an article in the National Review (cited in the Power Line weblog), Heather Mac Donald explodes both the myth of racial profiling and the Times's accusation. Not only did the study show that the traffic stop rates for whites, blacks, and Hispanics are the same, but that the differing search rates for the various groups is based in a simple reality: the difference in arrest and crime rates between them.

This isn't just annoying. It's actively harmful to the poor. As Mac Donald concludes,

The notion that the police target blacks and Hispanics because of their skin color has damaged urban life. Thanks to racial-data-collection mandates, every officer knows that if he has “too many” interactions with minority citizens - including responding to crime calls or preventing a mugging - he could face a bias charge. Some officers will decide that it’s wiser for their careers not to fight crime aggressively, leaving law-abiding inner-city residents at the mercy of thugs. The drumbeat against the cops increases the hostility against them, poisoning the trust needed for the most effective police work. The New York Times’s endless crusade against phantom police racism ensures that the poorest neighborhoods will continue to be held back by fear and violence.


Of course, race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson won't give up on the idea. If they didn't have any racism to denounce, they wouldn't have any reason to be prominent - and heaven forbid that should happen.

current mood: [mood icon] cynical
current music: Charlie Sexton - In Deep

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:wakkowarner
Date: - 0000
(Link)
It's a good thing Heather Mac Donald (who certainly sounds whiter than the purest driven snow, but what's that got to do with anything?) took it upon herself to expose this nasty myth for what it really is.

the differing search rates for the various groups is based in a simple reality: the difference in arrest and crime rates between them.

But, wait! What's that? Police pull people over at the same rate, regardless of whether the driver is black, white, or hispanic (which is hard to tell when a car's in motion, day or night, isn't it?) but, once the car's pulled over, they use the "difference in arrest and crime rates" between blacks, hispanics, and whites to determine whether or not to search the vehicle?

How, exactly, is this not racial profiling? Please enlighten me.

The author of the piece you link to claims that the rate of police stops among races is proportionally the same. However, the important part -- "what happen[s] once the police [make] a stop" -- is glossed over; the author simply claims "high crime rates among these races means it's okay to search them more often." How this disproves the idea of racial profiling is anyone's guess. She then claims that, well, maybe blacks and hispanics are arrested and searched more at traffic stops because they've been conditioned to believe racial profiling exists, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as they cry racism and put up a fight over being stopped. She offers no evidence to support this. As a matter of fact, she offers no evidence to support any of the major points she makes in the article.


And, for what it's worth, not linking to the Times article itself seems rather disingenous on your part. Why not present both sides of the argument?

Furthermore -- and this is certainly pretty damning to your claim -- if the government's report supposedly repudiates the notion that racial profiling is a problem, why was its author punished by the Bush administration with a demotion shortly after its publication? If the report supported the claim that profiling is not a problem, wouldn't they be standing behind the author? Why did they demote him?

Another site attempts to refute the Times article by showing its similarity to another article written by the same author a few years earlier. Though it, too, presents no evidence to counter the Times' article's claims, it is again typical of the type of baseless attacks people make when they have no contrary evidence to support their position.

Bottom line: this article failed to convince me. It failed miserably.

--

Your strident defense of the police continues to baffle me. As you're an avowed libertarian, it confuses me even further. I've personally been involved in far too many incidents with the police to believe that even the majority of them are here to "serve and protect". Maybe I've only dealt with the bad apples, maybe I've only been unlucky, but it's certainly soured my opinion of cops in general to the point where, now, by default, I distrust them all until proven otherwise.

- A.P.

[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
(Link)
but, once the car's pulled over, they use the "difference in arrest and crime rates" between blacks, hispanics, and whites to determine whether or not to search the vehicle? How, exactly, is this not racial profiling? Please enlighten me.
They don't use the difference in arrest and crime rates to decide whether to search. The Times article, for example, as well as the studies behind it, completely fail to control for the wide difference in things like outstanding warrants between groups. If a cop stops someone, runs his driver's license, and discovers there's an outstanding warrant, you can bet your ass they'll 1) arrest the guy and 2) search his vehicle.

And, for what it's worth, not linking to the Times article itself seems rather disingenous on your part.
Neither Power Line nor the site they linked to had the Times article linked. I had assumed it was no longer available, being nearly a month old.

Why'd they demote the author? Good question.I have no idea, nor is it relevant to the plain facts laid out by the study.

Your strident defense of the police continues to baffle me.
I spent 17 years working as a volunteer in close cooperation with several different law enforcement agencies. I got to know many street cops. in general, they're good people, trying to do a difficult job in the face of people actively trying to stir up hatred toward them, and lots more going along with the demagogues for purely political reasons. Yes, there are a few bad apples, and I've had cause to report some of that myself. The cop who sticks most in my mind as a bad apple must have gotten a good talking-to, because he became one of the better cops on the street - and I didn't have cause to complain about him again, even though we interacted quite a lot.

I know real cops. Do you?
[User Picture]
From:wakkowarner
Date: - 0000
(Link)
The Times article, for example, as well as the studies behind it, completely fail to control for the wide difference in things like outstanding warrants between groups. If a cop stops someone, runs his driver's license, and discovers there's an outstanding warrant, you can bet your ass they'll 1) arrest the guy and 2) search his vehicle.

Fair enough. But the authors at the sites you linked to also fail to establish a direct correlation between outstanding warrants and race. They simply state "the higher crime rates among blacks and hispanics" -- which they fail to corroborate with evidence -- is the reason more searches occur when the driver isn't white. Without any facts to back it up, that's circular, and specious, logic.

Neither Power Line nor the site they linked to had the Times article linked. I had assumed it was no longer available, being nearly a month old.

I found it in less than a minute in a Google News search using the name of the Times author.

Why'd they demote the author? Good question.I have no idea, nor is it relevant to the plain facts laid out by the study.

The Bush administration has a long history of punishing its own people who speak out against its policies. If the facts, when laid bare by the report itself, supported Power Line's (and your own) claim that racial profiling really isn't an issue anymore, why did the administration take the drastic action of demoting the guy who wrote the report, unless they felt threatened by the information contained therein?

I've come to the conclusion that the demotion is certainly relevant, no matter how anyone on the right tries to spin the report.

I spent 17 years working as a volunteer in close cooperation with several different law enforcement agencies. I got to know many street cops.

As an EMT volunteer, your interaction with the police was, one can assume, a far different experience from most people's interactions with the police at traffic stops. More than likely, those police who enforce traffic laws and pull folks over are of a different mentality, level of intellect, pay grade, rank, or character in general than those who dealt with the kinds of situations you were involved in. Most people only ever meet the police who ask for license and registration. Those types of police are known for their use of racial profiling, for better or worse.

- A.P.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
(Link)
As an EMT volunteer, your interaction with the police was, one can assume, a far different experience from most people's interactions with the police at traffic stops.
Quite probably. For one thing, there wasn't the usual adversarial relationship. This let me get to know the cops as people.

More than likely, those police who enforce traffic laws and pull folks over are of a different mentality, level of intellect, pay grade, rank, or character in general than those who dealt with the kinds of situations you were involved in.
Flatly, 100% wrong. The cops I dealt with were the same street cops who worked traffic. This would be true of every police department: traffic cops are not a special unit detailed to do just that, and certainly aren't traffic cops their entire career. There is no distinction. They're cops, period.

Most people only ever meet the police who ask for license and registration. Those types of police are known for their use of racial profiling, for better or worse.
Would they be if it weren't for the race-baiting segment of the Left, though? Mac Donald's article raises questions about that very thing.

The race baiters see racism in every decision, every setback, every competition, hiding behind every bush, lurking under every bed. It just ain't so, and the faster we understand that, the faster race relations will see real, meaningful improvement.

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