This judge ruled that our police officers on patrol — a majority of whom are black, Hispanic and other minorities — engaged in “indirect racial profiling.” Never once in the judge’s 197-page opinion did she mention the lives that have been saved because of the stops those officers made. Instead, throughout the recent trial, she showed disdain for our police officers and the dangerous work they do.
While this sort of sounds reasonable, it is, in fact, pernicious. Bloomberg is advancing here an argument in favor of his police practices based on outcomes – less crime, fewer murders, without understanding that it is precisely the same argument used to call those practices “profiling” (which is itself merely a codeword for “racism”)
The argument is about ends and means, and how the first justifies the second – or at least defines the second.
Bloomberg says that his police practices aren’t “profiling” at least in part because they reduce crime and save lives.
On the other hand, the judge says they are because the outcome of policing crime is the arrest and conviction of a disproportionate percentage (vis the total ethnic pool) of blacks and Hispanics.
In other words, profiling isn’t profiling because it has a good outcome, or it is because it has a disproportionate outcome.
Bloomberg does make the solid point that if you’re targeting people who commit crimes, and most of those people are of one or two ethnic minorities, then that isn’t profiling, it’s just common sense and good police practice.
But we live in an era when it is considered racist and bigoted to recognize that almost all terrorism is connected to Islamic jihad in one way or another, and so it should surprise nobody that similar analysis is used in other areas – like NYC policing policies.