Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Racial Profiling: Junk Science and the ACLU

The state legislature is once again addressing the issue of data collection by law enforcement agencies, this time as a condition of making seat belt use a primary violation where police can stop a driver solely for not wearing a seat belt. Currently this is a secondary violation where another violation must be first observed. This issue is once again being exploited by the race hustlers as nothing more than a means for cops to stop and harass minority drivers. The race baiters who view everything through the prism of race don’t see it as having anything to do with safety even though fatality and injury data prove otherwise.

Yes, they’re at it again. The cop-bashing organization known as the American Civil Liberties Union is doing what they do best. They indict law enforcement officers and sue their agencies whenever they can for whatever they can. Their mission claims to promote the civil rights of all Wisconsin residents, except for police officers, who they readily and without empirical evidence, accuse of being racist in performance of their duties.

I am referring to the anti-cop crusade waged incessantly by the ACLU on this nebulous issue of hard “racial profiling.” Unable to come up with scientific evidence that would prove this claim, they rely on junk science that simply looks at raw numbers of the race of drivers in traffic stops, compare it to the population as a whole and conclude that this is proof positive that too many black motorists are being stopped. They never have to answer the question, “Too many; compared to what?” But then again who needs scientific research? It’s easier to just throw this accusation at the police as if it were some sort of sport. Most law enforcement agencies won’t fight back anyway because of the legal advice to fold their cards. The ACLU sees them as low-hanging fruit.

Most city and county legal counsel just want the issue to quickly go away. Problem is that the issue of profiling never does. It’s easier to have law enforcement agencies just fall on the sword, settle lawsuits and succumb to the political correctness of expensive consent decrees, committees on diversity, and onerous data collection that is then used to club them over the head. Admitting that one is racist, even if not true, in a warped way demonstrates to those who have an agenda, that one’s apology is sincere and that they are ready to begin ridding themselves of their “sin.”

The ACLU knows that nothing will ever eliminate the belief by some black motorists that they are routinely pulled over simply for being black, not for a traffic violation, and therefore this destructive campaign against law enforcement can be waged forever. For the police-agitating ACLU it is the gift that keeps on giving. This cop-agitating organization has no interest in “ending racial profiling.” Most police agencies have done everything they have been asked to do by the anti-profiling advocates, but none of it has done anything to appease them. Agencies have conducted sensitivity training and initiated written polices prohibiting this obnoxious behavior, all at a cost to them, and it still hasn’t been enough.

I say enough is enough. As a law enforcement executive it’s my responsibility to monitor the activity of my officers to ensure compliance. If a complaint of hard profiling is made, I aggressively investigate it. If a pattern exists and an objective observer, not a politically motivated one, determines that action is needed, I’ll take it. If it turns out to be a misunderstanding by the driver about the nature of police work, I’ll take the time to educate the motorist. If it turns out to be a lie though I’ll ask for prosecution or seek a civil remedy.
Traffic stop data by itself is meaningless but it is politically explosive and that’s what Mr. Ahmuty knows. He and his cop-agitating organization have no interest in having the data scientifically analyzed and sophisticated benchmarks set, because every time this has been done it has disproved this claim as nothing more than myth. Nobody doubts that a few racist cops do exist and that they do engage in isolated instances of profiling for the wrong reasons. There is no empirical evidence however to prove that law enforcement agencies engage in systematic racial profiling as a practice.

If the ACLU were sincere in its mission to end hard racial profiling they would demonstrate it by digging into its own coffers to pay for the collection of data. They want everyone else to do the heavy lifting of paying for data collection. Apparently ending hard profiling isn’t important enough for them to finance the collection of data. They want the municipal corporations to pay for it. Mr. Ahmuty has even identified government resources that should be used to pay for it. How considerate of him to help. What a great idea Ahmuty proposes. We pay the cost for him to then sift through the raw data, misapply it in some flawed fashion and then use it as a weapon to accuse us of “racial profiling.” Why didn’t I think of that?

I don’t want funds designed for making communities safe used for this witch-hunt. If the state wants to pay for it, fine. I don’t want this paid for on the backs of property tax payers. I’m all for the collection of data if and only if an independent research firm, not the State Department of Justice, is allowed to analyze the data in a legitimately scientific way, one that has no hidden agenda and is skilled in this type of research so that we can give the ACLU’s poisonous agenda on hard profiling a proper burial.

Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.

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