Criminal and Racial Profiling

Criminal profiling is the act of using a profile of crime in order to locate and identify suspects: it is, in the words of Grafton (2008), “where you look at a specific crime and you try to determine — does it occur in a specific way and is it caused by a specific type of person.” Racial profiling, on the other hand, is the act of using race to locate and identify suspects — “to target people” (Dutta, 2010). Criminal profiling is part of a process that law enforcement agents employ in order to get a better understanding of and hold on crime and crime-ridden areas. Racial profiling, which can often be confused with criminal profiling because criminal profiles often produce a theme of “ethnic group in control for a specific type of crime,” is part of a process of harassing individuals based primarily on their race or ethnicity rather than on the fact that they fit a “criminal” profile based on their actions, habits, associates, etc. (Grafton, 2008). Criminal profiling looks at actions, while racial profiling looks at skin color.

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What is being done to curb or prevent racial profiling in my area of is that the police department has “established a Citizen Complaint Authority with investigative and subpoena powers over police” (Semuels, 2015). The police department also joined with the ACLU to “adopt community problem-oriented policing, or CPOP” (Semuels, 2015). This is a program designed to have law enforcement agents focus on the causes of crime rather than on arresting criminals. Since the implementation of CPOP, the police have seen incarceration rates and crime rates drop considerably. CPOP has been effective in curbing racial profiling by law enforcement in the community as can be seen by the renewed focus and energy on arresting the causes of crime rather than arresting people who fit a specific racial profile. This is an important development in the relationship between law enforcement and the community, especially considering the tension that has risen in the city following the shooting death of a teenaged, unarmed black male as well as recent riots and protests. Plus, the city also has a history of racial tension between the minority community and the law enforcement officers, who police them and have used racial profiling in the past.

Koffler (2015) describes an event of racial profiling on Here can be found a recent depiction of racial profiling that is described regarding what happened in the city when a University of Cincinnati police officer stopped a 43-year-old black male driver and shot him to death. The incident was captured on video by the officer’s body camera. The officer stated that he had been dragged by the driver of the car and that this was the reason the officer shot and killed the driver — but the body camera footage showed otherwise and Cincinnati prosecutor Deters has decided to charge the officer with murder. This is a very serious development in the saga of racial profiling in Cincinnati as it is a very recent example of how some officers still use racial profiling to stop persons and then use it to justify their attacks on the same persons, while using lies about the person’s actions in order to make themselves look better. The link to the article on Time discussing this event is here: The article includes the footage from the body camera of the officer so that the reader can judge for him or herself as to the necessity of the officer’s use of force. This is a tragic example of how racial profiling can end in utterly senseless violence. It is also one more reason why programs like CPOP are invaluable anywhere where tensions between racial minorities in a community and the police are evident: it should not be one set of laws for one side another for the other: all should be accountable.


Dutta, S. (2010). Criminal profiling vs. racial profiling. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Grafton, L. (2008). Law enforcement expert discusses differences between criminal and racial profiling. Shreveport Times. Retrieved from

Koffler, J. (2015). University of Cincinnati Cop Indicted in Killing of Unarmed Black

Man. Time. Retrieved from

Semuels, A. (2015). How to Fix a Broken Police Department. The Atlantic. Retrieved from