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Racial profiling is a useful tool for law enforcement and use of this should be encouraged.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/19/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 645 times Debate No: 86924
Debate Rounds (3)
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Terms of discussion:
- 1st round is for acceptance and opening statements
- Opponent will be arguing against the use of racial profiling in any form by law enforcement.
- Definition of racial profiling: The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence (1).

Race should not be ignored by law enforcement in the profiling process considering that it is just as relevant a factor as previous convictions and is a vital part in the upbringing of any individual and thus greatly speaks to the individual's mental state. Adding to this is the fact that individuals of other races than Caucasian are statistically more involved in crime than Caucasian individuals (2).
Any factor with such a huge significance should not be left out of law enforcement's assessment of the potential risk especially in times like these with the threat of yet another tragic terrorist attack happening at any given moment. Times like these call for an increase in the ways law enforcement use to protect us and prevent further violence.



Racial profiling definitely should not be encouraged in law enforcement. Most obviously, it violates the 14th amendment by not granting equal protection under the law for all citizens. It violates the due process of the law because there's not enough evidence of a crime to justify searching or stopping a person.

You quote some statistics that say black people commit more crime. Except, no, actually, your website shows that "non-white" people commit more crime. There are only two categories: white, and non-white. So which races should we profile based off of this information? It sounds like you just want a free pass for white people, which is just blatant white supremacy.

Even if the statistics were legit, it wouldn't matter. Obviously, if the police are told to search specific races more often than others, then those targeted will get arrested more. Arrest statistics don't necessarily show who is committing more crime; instead, it just shows who gets arrested.

I think we need to revisit your statistics source, because it's rather confusing. There's a third column that I didn't mention because it just says "All Races," which would lead one to believe that it is just the combination of the white and non-white column, but let's take a look at murder. White says 3.0, non-white says 14.8, and so the All Races must be 17.8, right? No. It's 5.2. And what do these numbers even mean? It can't be total number of cases, because 1) way more murders happen in this country than just 17.8, and 2) how can .8 of a murder occur? Well, then it must be percent, right? No, because some columns have as much as 1,000. How can more than 100% of people commit a crime? And it can't just be the increase from 2000 to 2001, because murder increased by a total of 3%.

But even if your statistics were right, or if the statistics didn't operate using circular reasoning, that still wouldn't make racial profiling justifiable. In 2010, 2,846,862 African Americans were arrested (28% of all arrests for that year) (1). In 2010 there were approximately 38.9 million African Americans in the US (2). So even in a country that, at the time, openly racial profiled people, 7% of black people were arrested. 7%. That means you are stopping people, harassing people, discriminating and openly oppressing a group of individuals for the color of their skin for a 7% chance at getting an arrest. And not all of those arrests were due necessarily to racial profiling, so there's even less of a chance of catching somebody.

Which leads me to my next point. African Americans have a history of being maltreated by white societies. We enslaved them, then we lynched them, and now we have our police harass, shoot, and lock up black Americans in droves. Why is there a culture of mistrusting white people in the black community? Because we still have people clamoring for further abuse of AA rights. Because we still have people believing the color of one's skin leads to a higher chance of crime.

Finally, how does racial profiling help the communities? Practically the only people who will be arrested from these searches are non violent offenders. How does removing a potential mother or father figure from a family help anybody?

Your move.




Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, when arguing that utilization of racial profiling as one of many techniques in identifying an offender violates the 14th amendment you clearly did not read the definition I stated in the terms of this debate. I am not arguing for law enforcement to stop anyone they wish on the street and search them. I am firmly against giving law enforcement excessive power of that kind however my opinion on that matter is not relevant in this debate as that is not what we are debating here.
Secondly, the statistics I quoted were provided by the FBI which should eliminate all doubt of their validity. I think your disbelief in the soundness of the numbers might be rooted in a general misunderstanding of the way these numbers are calculated. It is done by recording the number of people who have been arrested for the offence in every 100 people. To use your example of the murder rate the numbers mean that 3 out of 100 white people have been arrested for this while 14.8 (in average) of non-white people have been arrested for murder. This is also the reason that the two numbers are not simply added when looking at all races.
I agree that it is stated in the statistics that non-white people, not black people as you stated, commit more crime which is why I did not state that black commit more crime, I stated "Adding to this is the fact that individuals of other races than Caucasian are statistically more involved in crime than Caucasian individuals" which is, as you pointed out, what the statistics showed.
Thirdly, to answer your question of which race we should racially profile, it does not have to be limited to one race. The whole point of racial profiling being used soundly and without harassing and oppressing is that it applies to every race just like any other profiling tool. Ignoring race completely in future profiling might lead to an investigator missing a vital part of a profile not because everything that makes a person's character is their race but because the majority of what does, upbringing, family and close relation etc., is in some ways affected by race.
In his book "Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city" (New York: Norton; 1999)(1) Elijah Anderson, professor in sociology at Yale University, describes how the "code of the street" often leads to violence as a consequence of disrespect which in turn has the result of increased violence occurring in areas where this code applies. The inhabitants of areas where the "code of the street" applies are typically not predominately Caucasian.
Lastly, I apologize if I am repeating myself here but my argument is not pro harassment of any race. My argument is that racial profiling could prove a highly useful tool if further developed and not merely written of as racism which is what has happened so far. The discussion of race and crime has been ignored for too long in fear of misunderstandings and mislabeled racism. Making race a taboo topic will not solve anything what will solve problems is introducing a form of racial profiling that allows law enforcement to create a full criminal profile and more effectively solve crime.
(1) (This is sadly only an excerpt of the book but my point stands)


Your definition was "The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime." That definition violates the 14th amendment. You say that you don't want police to stop anybody just because of their skin color, but that is how racial profiling is practiced. Police stop people of color more often because of their skin color due to a belief that race is connected to crime.

I don't know if we can really call statistics provided by the FBI beyond suspicion. They're an organization that harassed Civil Rights leaders and framed people suspected of terrorism (1). You say that these are out of every 100 people, but most statistics I've seen are out of 100,000 people, and I can't recall seeing on the page where it said it was out of 100 people. Still, doesn't really matter.

I think what you're really arguing for is that race should be mentioned when giving a profile on an offender. Which, if we can determine the race of a suspect of a crime that is already established, then sure. But that's not what Racial Profiling is. RP takes place before a cop can even be sure that any crime has been committed.

Okay, so ONE psychology professor agrees with you. Big whoop. There are scientists who discredit evolution, a flat earth, and say that 9/11 was an inside job. Finding somebody who agrees with you doesn't make you right in the slightest.

I'm still not sure to what extent you want racial profiling practiced. If not for stopping passer-bys on the street or in their cars because of their skin color, which is what racial profiling is, then what?

Once a crime has been established we can have an idea of the racial makeup of the perpetrator. Most crimes are of the same race because most crimes happen within a community, so if a white guy is murdered it is a good idea to suspect a white killer. Even in the case of murder, however, the suspect is usually somebody the victim knew, or its obvious in some other way who did it.

In this next round I want to know:

~What Pro means by racial profiling
~How racial profiling would be implemented and developed
~Whether or not it is okay to search a person based solely on their race, lacking any other reasons for suspicion.
~A response to the point I made in the first round, ie, arrest statistics just show who is getting arrested, and not who is committing the crimes.
~A response to the point I made in the first round, ie, even if, for example, black people were more likely to deal drugs, this does not mean that a black person is likely to be a drug dealer.
Debate Round No. 2


Firstly, in the first round I stated that "race should not be ignored by law enforcement in the profiling process"(1) as in it should not be left out with the possible consequence worsening the quality of the investigation. The OED defines profiling as "The recording and analysis of a person"s psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people."(2) As stated in earlier rounds race has an immense influence on an individual's state of mind and behavior accordingly it is only sensible to account for race when analyzing a person's psychological and behavioral characteristics. This opportunity to better the investigation techniques of law enforcement should not be ignored even with the previous mistakes made by poorly educated law enforcement. Racial profiling should be implemented where "regular" profiling is already implemented that is where it belongs, in criminal investigations not random searches, and where it has been missing for too long.
Secondly, the FBI does not have any evident motive to falsify arrest statistics. The source listed in your argument listed several unfortunate occurrences, however several of them are outdated, however this would not lead me to they believe that they would falsify arrest statistics. I also apologize for explaining the way the statistics should be read too vaguely this one is probably better to read (3) the UCR, who gathered the information seen in the table, does not gather offense data, conversely the U.S Sentencing Commission does. Their statistics(4) do nevertheless convey roughly the same message as those previously stated, thus my point stands.
Thirdly, when you begin to agree that race can be used as a factor in the profiling process your anti racial profiling standpoint enters a gray zone since that, using the given definition, qualifies as racial profiling, merely in a nondiscriminatory manner. In the terms of the discussion it was listed that "opponent will be arguing against the use of racial profiling in any form by law enforcement"(5) if you do not intend to follow the terms set for the discussion it makes it significantly harder to have one.
Fourthly, the mentioning of only one professor was not from a lack of experts rather the opposite, multiple professors of various relevant sciences such as but not limited to: Criminology, sociology and social science. In addition to Elijah Anderson, professor of sociology at Yale University (6) professors include Robert J. Sampson, professor of social sciences at Harvard University(7) who together with William Julius Wilson, also a professor at Harvard University (8), wrote a paper titled "Toward a Theory of Race, Crime and Urban Inequality" in which their state "criminologists are loath to speak openly on race and crime for fear of being misunderstood or labeled racist."(9) further they express how the scarce debate that is taking place is made up of weak unsubstantiated arguments. It is this lack of debate that leads to the racial discrimination by uneducated law officers not the concept of racial profiling itself. It is exactly by having this debate that is being skirted around by experts and initiating a fruitful dialogue between the government and the experts that racial profiling could be developed into the excellent tool it has the potential to become.
Several other professors or otherwise qualified experts have also been cited in a paper Titled "Assessing the Race-Crime and Ethnicity-Crime Relationship in a Sample of Serious Adolescent Delinquents" (10) written by Alex R. Piquero, professor of criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas(11), together with Robert W. Brame, former professor of criminology at North Carolina University at Charlotte, in which they thoroughly examine the problem. Seeing as several of these professors teach at ivy league schools it is a stretch to compare them to conspiracy theorists and religious fundamentalists.
Lastly, in response to the last point on the list of requirements you provided for my argument in this round, which I, by the way, truly hope I have fulfilled to your satisfaction, "even if, for example, black people were more likely to deal drugs, this does not mean that a black person is likely to be a drug dealer": No that is true, it does mean however that a black person is more likely to deal drugs which could prove to be highly relevant in certain criminal cases. Race is a part of an individual's identity and background consequently it is highly relevant when law enforcement needs to identify possible criminals and their behavioral patterns that being the case racial profiling is very much so a useful tool for law enforcement and use of this should be encouraged.

(1) Steve Carlsberg, opening statement (line 1, after terms of discussion)
(5) Steve Carlsberg, terms of discussion (point 2)
(9) (again sadly only an excerpt it does however contain the quote on the page labeled 37)


I'm reading your argument and I'm honestly still confused. Where is 'profiling' already being used, and how is RP not being used there already? I'm not saying you need to give an entire description of the profiling process, but what crimes are profiles used in? Murder? Because, as I stated, most murders are done by someone with a clear motive, or they're never caught. I can only think of serial killers who don't have a clear motive, but most serial killers are white men, and most murders happen within the same racial lines.

Also, you've never actually proven that race is such a big factor in the development of a person. What does that even mean? It seems to suggest that there's some natural difference between a black person and a white one, and not a socialized mentality forced upon the two people due to their environments which may vary wildly. No two black people have the same childhood.

I don't really care about the FBI thing, so I'm not going to address it. I think the statistics are fairly useless for reasons I've already mentioned (that arrest stats tell us who is being arrested, not who is committing the crime).

You say that "when you begin to agree that race can be used as a factor in the profiling process your anti racial profiling standpoint enters a gray area." Sure, but what's your point? I mean, if you begin to agree that abortion is wrong then obviously somebody saying that abortion is right provides a gray area. But I'm not accepting that race can be used to profile cases.

Oh, so you don't have one guy, you have four. You have completely swayed my opinion on the matter, and I now realize the opinion of four inconsequential professors is insurmountable. But seriously, it doesn't matter how many people agree with you. Unless the respective scientific communities agree with you, having a majority opinion is worthless. And from your own admission you don't have the majority on your side, because this debate hasn't even begun apparently in the psychological community. And yet, without clear, concise agreement from the scientific community, you are more than okay with citing a few papers that happen to coincide with your preconceived opinion. Perhaps it isn't the fear of being racist (as that hasn't really stopped white people in the past), I put forward that the professors in question might already be discredited. I mean, the whole "We're being censored by the majority!" is an argument commonly put forward by creationists too.

How exactly is it that a lack of debate leads cops to be more racist? And what potential do you think racial profiling has?

Your argument that ivy-league schools are beyond comparison to religious fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists is a rather elitist argument and completely without basis. Your degree doesn't make you right, I'm sorry to say. Agreement in the scientific community based off of peer-reviewed papers lends you some credibility.

You have not fulfilled my last critique, actually. I have no clue what you mean by racial profiling. I don't even know what you're trying to say when you just brush off my point about black drug dealers. Let's say that a black person is more statistically likely to deal drugs. What follows from that? What does Officer Forrest do with that information that remotely helps him with his job?

Racial profiling takes place before a crime has even been committed. It's the mentality that people of color are more likely to do crime, and so it is likely that most people of color do crime, which is fundamentally wrong. You might mean something different when you say racial profiling, but the word has a specific meaning for a specific, too often occurring situation in which black people are harassed and stopped more than white people. You've failed to communicate beyond vague musings what racial profiling is to you, how it could help police let alone the communities, or how race fundamentally plays a role in the development in a person.

You carried the burden of proof into this discussion, and instead of communicating clearly your points, you've copied and pasted the same flawed argument. Having a handful of professors agree with you is nothing. Vague allusions to the promise of racial profiling is nothing. Empty promises that what you mean by racial profiling is not discriminatory are nothing.

I enjoyed the debate. Best of luck to you.
Debate Round No. 3
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