Racial Profiling: We Know It Exists But Are We Asking the Right People

John Reitzel, University of Florida

A hot issue across the United States today is the incidence of racial profiling by police. Currently, only a moderate amount of empirical research exists concerning the practice of racial profiling and the empirical evidence that does exist has elicited both theoretical and methodological problems that necessitate further exploration. Moreover, almost all studies to date have focused upon studying only police practices, thus leaving out one crucial element- the perspective of ordinary citizens. Therefore, through a review of the current research, as well as an analysis of data pertaining to citizen's attitudes concerning racial profiling and the New York City Police Department, a number of hypotheses will be explored. First, do racial differences exist in people's belief in whether they have ever been racially profiled by the New York City Police Department? Second, do racial differences exist as to people's opinion about whether or not racial profiling is widespread in New York City? Last, do racial difference matter in people's opinion about the job that the NYPD is doing? Through this paper, I will explore the implications within a broader literature concerning racism and policing.

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Updated 05/20/2006