A Comparison of Racial Profiling To protect and serve ;any American familiar with the police knows this pledge. Yet each of these individuals who have heard this has in the last ten years been exposed to several other things: the Rodney King beating, the Mumia Abu-Jamal case, and countless other incidents of police brutality towards minorities. These events are evidence of the fact that some police officers are more likely to discriminate against blacks than whites. But the truth of the matter is that the police are just as likely to commit these same acts against hispanics as they are against blacks. The act of discriminating against minorities by being quicker to accuse or even beat them (which is so often done by friendly neighborhood police officers ) is called racial profiling. And it s illegal, at least in theory. But to assume that black suspects are the only minority that are victims of this crime is a severe misconception. In fact, Nueva York s Seventh Annual Survey on police and quality of life reveals that a shocking 84 percent believe that police brutality is a serious problem in the city police department, and 54 percent characterize police discrimination against minorities as widespread (2). For anyone who has seen the tapes of the Rodney King beating, it is not necessary to demonstrate that racial profiling exists in cities like Los Angeles. But in order to show how racial profiling is equally as problematic for hispanics, one does not need to see any tapes, but only look at some facts. According to the Danny Davis, a writer for the webzine Politico, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report, blacks make up less than 15 percent of the population in Illinois and take approximately 10 percent of the personal vehicle trips. But they comprise 23 percent of the searches conducted by an Illinois State Police drug interdiction program. That same report indicates that Hispanics make up less than 8 percent of Illinois' population and take fewer than 3 percent of personal vehicle trips - but constitute 27 percent of searches by the same drug interdiction program. While troopers ask a higher percentage of Hispanic motorists to consent to searches, they find contraband in a lower percentage of vehicles of Hispanic motorists. Needless to say, this is startling information. It would be foolish to assert that blacks and hispanics are stopped so often because they are all inferior drivers, so this information clearly illustrates that police officers are much more likely to stop a minority driver simply for being a member of an ethnic minority. A simple look at the mathematics backs up this statement. Blacks and hispanics make up less than 23 percent of the population of this single state of Illinois, yet they make up fully half of the searches performed by police officers. Whites make over 70 percent of the population. By comparison, in the state of Illinois, you are over twice as likely to be pulled over while driving if you are black or hispanic! Another underlying problem is the extensive ignorance of this situation that many whites possess. The Nueva York poll indicates that 65 percent of whites polled in New York City believe that police brutality is rare in the city. If the previous facts are true, then such lack of awareness by whites is overwhelming. It s not helping the problem, either. This is not to say that all whites are contributing to the problem, or even that all white police officers profile on the basis of race. But if only a small percentage of them do this, then there is still a problem which needs to be addressed. America is a country of many contrasting cultures. To use our differences as the basis for discrimination against minorities like blacks or hispanics, especially when the police force is used as a vehicle to that end, is an unfortunate, present crime that hurts everyone. Works Cited Davis, Danny. Racial Profiling editorial. July, 2000. Internet. 12 Oct. 2000. Available http://www.politicomagazine.com/dannydavis071200.html. Hispanic New Yorkers on Nueva York. Second Annual Survey - Report 2: Police and Quality of Life. 1999, pp. 1-5.