racial profiling
(RAY.shul proh.fy.ling) pp. Detaining, questioning, or arresting a person whose race is part of a profile of traits that allegedly identify the most likely perpetrators of certain crimes.

Example Citation:
A room full of senior police officers and prominent politicians agreed yesterday that racial profiling in Ontario exists and must be stamped out. Former Ontario lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander called his summit on race relations "historic" as he announced that he had secured commitments from all levels of police and government to end racial profiling by police and restore confidence in the public complaints system.
—John Duncanson, "Summit pledges to halt racial profiling," The Toronto Star, November 26, 2002

Earliest Citation:
A cop stops a car for speeding down the New Jersey Turnpike, finds a sock full of cocaine and collars its four occupants.

A simple arrest?

Or the beginning of the end of our civil rights?

The American Civil Liberties Union wants us to believe this 1989 incident is part of a national pattern of bias against minority drivers. The ACLU contends that charges should be dropped in 23 New Jersey Turnpike arrests, including the aforementioned four people.

The police argue that these arrests were legitimate.

Maybe they were. But each of these cases should be judged on its merits, not on whether it was part of a corrupt system.

If a driver is speeding down the turnpike at 80 miles an hour in a stolen BMW with Florida license plates and a suspiciously sagging trunk, a cop should feel free to stop the car without worrying about whether the occupants are members of a minority group.

The ACLU alleges "racial profiling," in which police look for certain minorities driving certain kinds of cars with certain out-of-state plates. This makes it more likely that minority drivers will be stopped by police.

The statistics do support the ACLU's contention. Blacks and Latinos made up only 13.5 percent of the drivers on the turnpike, but 75 percent of the drivers stopped by police.
—"Fit the wrong 'profile'? Pull over!," Philadelphia Daily News, August 8, 1994

Related Words: