By Richard R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Recent public opinion surveys have revealed that the vast majority of Americans believe that use of racial profiling by the police is widespread.1 This is deeply disturbing for two reasons. First, it is disturbing because it undermines police legitimacy among the vast majority of our citizens. Second, it is disturbing because the vast majority of law enforcement officers I have known do not engage in bias-based policing. While racial profiling likely occurs among a small number of individual officers acting outside the bounds of their oath to uphold the Constitution, it is unlikely that racial profiling is systemic to law enforcement in the United States.