Can Police Use “Racial Profiling” in Henderson, Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Apr 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Racial profiling by police officers is against the law in Henderson, Nevada. No one in the city or elsewhere in the state should be pulled over or questioned by police on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

“Racial profiling” in Henderson occurs when a police officer stops, questions, detains, searches, or arrests someone solely on the basis of their race or ethnicity. The practice has raised concerns among civil rights advocates and others for some time.

High profile incidents involving the detention of African-Americans or individuals being pulled over for “driving while black” add to these concerns. As the Washington Post reported, statistics show that African-Americans are questioned by police on the street at a far higher rate than other ethnicities, and African-American drivers are twice as likely as whites to be arrested after being pulled over for a traffic stop.

In 2003, the United States Department of Justice issued guidelines prohibiting racial profiling by federal law enforcement officers, saying that: 

“'Racial profiling' at its core concerns the invidious use of race or ethnicity as a criterion in conducting stops, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures. It is premised on the erroneous assumption that any particular individual of one race or ethnicity is more likely to engage in misconduct than any particular individual of another race or ethnicity. Racial profiling in law enforcement is not merely wrong, but also ineffective.”

Additional federal guidelines about racial profiling were introduced in 2014 in response to the incidents in Ferguson and New York City that sparked widespread protests.

Numerous states, including Nevada, have passed laws that specifically prohibit law their state's law enforcement officials from engaging in racial profiling. In Nevada, NRS 289.820 bans the use of racial profiling, which is defined in the statute as

“reliance by a peace officer upon the race, ethnicity or national origin of a person as a factor in initiating action when the race, ethnicity or national origin of the person is not part of an identifying description of a specific suspect for a specific crime.”

Notwithstanding these statutes and guidelines, racial profiling is still a problem. As such, federal lawmakers have introduced additional legislation in an attempt to address the issue.

The End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling or targeting a person based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime.

Additionally, the bill would establish a federal cause of action specifically for racial profiling which would allow victims of racial profiling to seek relief in court.

No one should be subjected to racial profiling. If you have concerns about your treatment by law enforcement officers, please give an experienced Henderson, Nevada criminal defense attorney a call.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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