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Police Profiling

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 884 times Debate No: 20210
Debate Rounds (3)
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Here' s a real life example. I am looking for you big time debaters to tell your position, either way.

It's 5:00pm and a beautiful, mint condition Maserati enters Route One (the road from Maine to Florida). This car is unusual in the town but it is a wealthy seaside town. The car travels in traffic about 1/4 mile on that road, where some construction is taking place, so no one is
speeding. The car, driving about 20 miles per hour, passes a police car parked perpendicularly. The police pulls out behind the car and then pulls the car over. When the officer is confronted and asked why she pulled the car over, she answers because the car was not registered, a fact she
would only know by running the plate. To me this is a type of profiling, as the officer had no probable cause to pull the driver over and ran the plate for no reason.


How do you know that the officer had not chosen to say, pull over every 10th car that passed her or every 15th car and check the car registration plate to check that it was registered. I will presume that the car in question is not registered as it is not clear to me. If the officer had been about to pull the car over but then realised that the car was an expensive car and therefore presumed it would be registered this is an equal example of profiling. The officer needs to occasionally pull over cars in this case it seems clear that the car pulled over was simply the unlucky car that got picked. You have in fact shown no proof that the officer in question had not in fact pulled over every car that went past, therefore defeating the claim of unfair profiling.
Debate Round No. 1


All the facts of the events that took place were provided. The officer did not pull over every car or every other car or any other pragmatic or random scenario.

The officer, when asked, did not give a reason for running the plate or any other explanation to which you speak, like I am pulling over every 15th car in a random registration check and you were unlucky, etc. The officer gave no explanation why she ran the plate, and again, provided no explanation or methodology upon which her pursuit of the vehicle was based.

Thus, running the plate, despite the vehicle committing no traffic violation is where the police profiling began. Your statement that "the officer needs to occasionally pull over cars" is exactly the the profiling behavior that concerns me, and obviously concerns other states like CT, where these events took place, to enact police profiling laws. In addition to running amok over the CT profiling law, the officer trampled over the driver's 4th Amendment Rights, guaranteeing the driver to be safe from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause and the driver's 14th Amendment Rights, requiring equal treatment for all citizens under the law. This incident, for me, led to the practice of discrimination based on based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or any other particular identity, and undermines the basic human rights and freedoms to which every person is entitled.

This, for me, is as clear cut as it gets, because enabling the police to wield a sword with no basis or in an unequal basis, without methodology, without probable cause upon which to act, is a policing power without ethics, without controls and without law, which leads to tyranny and anarchy, and is simply un American... Not to mention the opportunity cost lost of that same officer, had she chosen to perform her duties according to the law, could have spent that same time foiling al crime or responding to a real police matter.


First of to counter your last point that the Officer could have spent that time stopping a crime or responding to a "real police matter". I believe that the person in question driving around in an unregistered car is a "real police matter". There may be more pressing matters to attend to, however you cant claim its not a police matter.

In my argument you don't know that the police officer was not scanning every car that went past and running there details for: Stolen vehicles, uninsured vehicles, unregistered vehicles. I you wondering how they could do that ill include a video in my sources that shows a device like the one described in action, it has cameras on the front, sides and back so it could easily read the registration number where it was parked. You stated that the officer claimed the car was pulled over because it was unregistered, not so the officer could check if it was unregistered, not because the officer thought it was unregistered. Because the officer knew it was unregistered. This also points to the likely use of cameras on the police vehicle to check out the registration plates of passing vehicles.

Lastly there is obviously a basis and probable cause upon which to act if the car has been scanned and found unregistered by a device such as the one mentioned earlier.

Debate Round No. 2


As I explained in each round of this debate there was no planned review of the cars, no systematic approach, no directive to stop cars or surveil cars in any pattern whatsoever. I have explained repeatedly that this was not the case; it just did not happen. For whatever reason, each of your responses in this debate focus on this concept and the technology associated with some uniform patterned surveillance, rather than the debate topic of police profiling and the facts that occurred.

My focus and the focus of this debate is whether police profiling, which is what occurred in this case, is appropriate. CT obviously ruled that it is not, which is why CT was the second state to pass the law against it, and is as of 2011 considering a stronger version of the bill in the Senate. Economic profiling exists in CT and is exactly what took place here.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that probable cause exists where "the facts and circumstances within [the police officer's] knowledge" are of a "reasonably trustworthy" basis to "warrant a man of reasonable caution" to believe that an offense has been or is about to be committed (Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 45 S. Ct. 280, 69 L. Ed. 543 [1925]). Probable cause will not be found where the only evidence of criminal activity is an officer's "good information" or "belief" (Aguilar v. Texas, 378U.S. 108, 84 S. Ct. 1509, 12 L. Ed. 2d 723 [1964]). The point here is that yes the driver was driving a car that had an expired registration, no question, but that the officer ran the plate of the car without probable cause, which is required under the law in the state of CT. An exception would be a controlled methodology in place like a checkpoint or electronic surveillance with a planned uniform procedure in place, but as I explained already this was not the case.

in addition, the driver has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the automobile that he or she is driving; (Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S. Ct. 2022, 29 L. Ed. 564 [1971]), and an expectation that that privacy will not be interrupted whimsically and without probable cause. A police officer must possess an "articulable" and "reasonable" suspicion that an automobile has violated a state or local traffic law to stop the driver, (Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S. Ct. 1391, 59 L. Ed. 2d 660 [1979]).

Furthermore, police officers are entrusted with the powers to conduct investigations, to make arrests, and occasionally to use lethal force in the line of duty, but these powers must be exercised within the parameters authorized by the law. Power exercised outside of these legal parameters transforms law enforcers into lawbreakers.


patrickhughes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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