NPR logo Racial Profiling: Cops on the Prowl?

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Racial Profiling: Cops on the Prowl?

Profiling. Stop and Frisk. Driving while Black...

How are you reacting to this? Are you rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh, that again?" ...Or are you saying, "Yeah, that's right. What about that?"

I point it out because this is not simple arithmetic, as in one plus one equals two. It is just inescapable that where you stand on questions like this often depends on where you sit. One less-discussed result from the recent Pew Poll (pdf) on racial attitudes (conducted in association with NPR) is that Blacks have a very different view of law enforcement than whites do...

Pew Poll: Young people, regardless of race, have the least amount of confidence in local police. Only 16% of all blacks under the age of 30 consistently express trust in police on all three measures, compared with 26% of those blacks 65 years and older. While whites have significantly more confidence than blacks in local police, young whites are skeptical...

I am guessing this was probably less discussed (although we did talk about it) because the other results were so interesting ... but also because that perspective is so well known.

I am raising this because our lead story this morning is both new and not new. How many times have you heard a Black/African American or Latino man — especially a young man — complain of his treatment by the police? And, how many times have you heard the police say it didn't happen, or get over it? We have a story like that this morning ... a young reporter for the New York Post, Leonardo Blair, talks about how he was treated by the NYPD when he got home from work last week. He wrote about it in the Sunday paper.

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Usually, the situations we hear about involve an interracial dynamic. But in the case we talked about this morning, everybody involved was black or Latino. So, we thought it a good idea to add another voice to the mix, and that would be Stanley Couch, a well-known writer and columnist who kind of gives no quarter to anybody. He raises the question of how to balance the real need to fight crime — much of which is black-on-black or Latino-on-Latino — with a need to respect the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Also, we have the additional benefit of hearing a perspective from the New York City deputy police commissioner for public information. Hear his take on the interaction between Blair and the two police officers.

And later, on a happier note (it's the holiday season), ways to do some GOOD. We'll have a variety of perspectives this week. We start in New York and then travel south. There's a program called DonorsChoose, where you can decide how your money gets spent on projects for school kids around the country. In other words, it's an version of our Ordinary Oprahs. We'll have more for you over the week.

Merry, merry and Happy Hanukah, which begins tonight. Send me some gelt if you have any left over ... the good kind.

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