Essay: Changes Within Criminal Justice Organization

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Changes Within Criminal Justice Organization

Changes within a criminal justice organization:

Increased police profiling of Arab-Americans after September 11, 2001

Changes within a criminal justice organization:

Increased police profiling of Arab-Americans after September 11, 2001

Accusations of racial profiling have dogged law enforcement in America since the birth of the nation. However, after the attacks upon the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001, profiling Arab-Americans by local law enforcement has become of increased concern, according to a Vera Institute of Justice study. The study "explored the changed relationship between Arab-Americans and law enforcement in the years since the 2001 terrorist attacks" (Elliott 2006, p.1). Since the attacks, Arab-Americans have viewed the police in a more adversarial fashion and are more inclined to see the police as a threat rather than a protective force in their communities. This has been due to increased perceptions that they are 'racially profiled' because of their appearance, ethnic, and religious heritage. Even though some Arabs are Christians, many report being 'profiled' as Muslims by local law enforcement officers.

The need for community policing is underlined by the study's findings. Regardless of whether profiling does occur in specific instances, Arab-Americans clearly perceive that it does take place on a wide scale. It is hoped that through increased recruitment efforts, Arab-Americans will begin to see their community reflected in the faces of law enforcement officials and they will be more apt to cooperate with authorities when necessary, regarding crimes pertaining not only to terrorist-related activities, but in regards to community safety. Yet the chasm of understanding between law enforcement and Arab-American community members remains quite wide. Interviews with the Vera study participants revealed that even more so than hate crimes by citizens, Arab-Americans feared police surveillance.

"While hate crimes against Arab-Americans spiked after Sept. 11, they have decreased in the years since, according to both law enforcement and Arab-American respondents" (Elliott, 2006, p.1).The study "focused upon the effects of a number of post-9/11 policies, including USA Patriot Act, voluntary interviews of thousands of Arab-Americans by federal agents, and an initiative known as Special Registration, in which more than 80,000 immigrant men were fingerprinted, photographed and questioned by authorities" (Elliott, 2006, p.1). These actions have communicated the message to Arab-Americans that they are perceived as the perpetrators of crime, rather than as potential victims or even as fellow citizens.

As well as statistically-based questionnaires, the study made use of focus group interviews. "During one focus group, a woman told the story of an encyclopedia salesman who came to her door and asked to use the bathroom. She worried that he might have been an agent trying to plant a listening device in her home" (Elliott, 2006, p.1). To improve community relations, actively recruiting Arab-Americans to the ranks of law enforcement is deemed essential. Individuals from within the culture can more effectively understand how to build trust between Arab-American citizens and those officers in charge of protecting community safety. Arab-Americans in law enforcement are also in a better position to be able to see signs of potential trouble, either due to potential terrorist activity, or the possibility of hate crimes against community members.

Profiling simply further radicalizes community residents in a negative fashion, the study found: "new measures threatened to harm decades of work by police departments to build trust in their communities, especially among immigrants, the study concluded. After 9/11, federal agents increasingly turned to the police for help with gathering intelligence and enforcing immigration laws" (Elliott 2006, p.1). Investigating accusations… [END OF PREVIEW]

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