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Racial Profiling: Are you a Victim?

Racial profiling proliferates almost all aspects of society. Despite the fact racial equality is something that should be strived for each and every day, headlines still highlight the many race-based issues in our country. From racial tensions spurred by political candidates, to the disparate treatment of Flint, Michigan’s residents, racial inequality is all too common. In an ideal world, at least the individuals charged with protecting the public would be immune from racial proclivities. However, this may not be the case; at least not for Bergen County.

E-mail Defending Profiling

According to The Patch, in 2014 Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox sent an email to his staff defending racial profiling. A copy of that email indicates that Fox said “profiling, racial or otherwise, has it’s place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly.” The Patch reported that Udi Ofer, the executive director of the ACLU New Jersey Office, after seeing the email, sent a letter to Wyckoff’s mayor, the Bergen County Prosecutor, and local NAACP officials calling for the firing of Chief Fox. Ofer made it clear in his letter that “racial profiling has no place in New Jersey…”.

The Record also reported on the racially tinged email. Authorities are currently being asked to confirm whether or not the email is authentic. So far Fox is not being charged with a crime, although the Bergen County Prosecutor is directing all questions to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. The office stated that the email, if valid, would be a violation of a 2005 policy banning “racially-influenced policing.” The pertinent part of that policy indicates that a person’s race or ethnicity shall not be considered as a factor when drawing inferences to whether or not the person is involved in criminal activity.

Could You be the Victim of Racial Profiling?

The sad reality is that if you are arrested in Bergen County you may be the victim of racial profiling. Not only is this discriminatory, but it may impact your overall case. Take, for example, the issue of probable cause. If police stopped you solely on the basis of your race or ethnicity, then you might be able to get your case dismissed upon a finding that probable cause for a search was lacking. Racial policies meant to specifically target you could show bias on the part of the police and go toward weakening the case the police are bringing against you.

Additionally, any racial policies might provide grounds for a civil rights claim against certain government actors. If your rights are being infringed upon you may bring suit against the police, or possibly even the city for systematically being biased against you.

Hiring a Lawyer

In an ideal world racially biased policies would never be a factor in determining whether or not to stop someone who may or may not be committing a crime. Unfortunately, these policies affect the lives of innocent people everyday. You may be one of the many individuals illegally stopped pursuant to these racists policies. This is all the more reason to contact a criminal defense attorney who will preserve your rights. Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New Jersey and has been practicing law since 1989.  He can help take you through the criminal justice process, while defending your rights. Call today to discuss your case.

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