Discussion – Week 9
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Forensic Psychology Professionals and Racial Profiling
In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Terry v. Ohio (1968), ruled that, even without a search warrant, police officers could search a person for a weapon if they have reason to believe that the individual could be armed and dangerous. However, when police simply use the individual’s race as reasonable cause for search or arrest, the police are employing racial profiling. State police statistics show that racial minorities have been involved in car stops, searches, and arrests more often than non-minorities. In 1998, a Washington Post article reported that in New Jersey, more Hispanics and blacks had their cars stopped and searched on the New Jersey Turnpike than other motorists. Individual stories continue to illustrate this trend. For example, in 2009, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct after police responded to a call reporting an attempted break-in. Gates had misplaced his keys and was spotted outside of his home, pushing open his door. When police arrived and questioned Gates, he became outraged and accused the police of racial profiling. He was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct and, almost immediately, public accusations of racial profiling were made. Those who believed that the arrest was due to racial profiling claim that the police would not have assumed that Gates was breaking into the house if he had been a white man. Those who believe the arrest was not due to racial profiling claim that the police officers had a right to question a man trying to push open a door, especially since he had become belligerent with the officers at the scene. Since the events of 9/11, racial profiling has led to accusations of terrorism and arrests of innocent people. Some people attest that these arrests are appropriate because it is better to err on the side of caution, while others oppose racial profiling because it is a civil rights abuse. Obviously, racial profiling is a controversial issue, and it continues to be at the forefront of questionable police arrest behaviors. Forensic psychology professionals can be instrumental in helping police professionals and organizations deal with issues concerning racial profiling. To prepare for this Discussion: • Review the following articles and consider the roles that forensic psychology professionals can perform related to helping police professionals understand racial profiling issues. Focus on the use and value, if any, of racial profiling in preventing terrorism. Think about how the use of racial profiling complies with ethical standards. • “Interaction Patterns in Crisis Negotiations: Persuasive Arguments and Cultural Differences” • “Better Unsafe Than (Occasionally) Sorry?” • “Racial Profiling and Moral Panic: Operation Thread and the Al-Qaeda Sleeper Cell That Never Was” • “Racial Profiling as a Preemptive Security Measure After September 11: Suggested Framework for Analysis” • “Profiling Terrorists” • “Black or Blue: Racial Profiling and Representative Bureaucracy” • Select at least one role that a forensic psychology professional performs related to issues of racial profiling. With these thoughts in mind: Post by Day 4 a description of at least one role that a forensic psychology professional performs related to police professionals and racial profiling. Then, evaluate the value and ethics of using racial profiling to prevent terrorism. Support your responses with references to the Learning Resources and the research literature. Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.
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