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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Police use profiling to cut violent crime

Sunday, February 22, 2004

The city of St. Louis has long had a reputation as a dangerous community. The murder rate in metropolitan St. Louis in recent years has consistently been among the highest in the nation. In fact, it's been over 40 years since the murders in the city have been under 100 victims. But that changed radically last year when only 69 deaths were reported in the urban community.

But here's what's at the core of that dramatic turnaround. You want to know how St. Louis managed to reduce their murder rate so drastically? Racial profiling. And you want to know what segment of the population has become the most vocal in supporting the new policing policy? Members of the minority population.

That's right, leading minority voices in St. Louis are applauding the city's efforts through racial profiling that resulted in this major decline. A black pastor and former president of the Metropolitan St. Louis Clergy Coalition said by targeting high-crime neighborhoods, police were targeting individuals with criminal records and "people who know they've done certain things." He said neighborhood support is strong for removing violent offenders.

Racial profiling as a police practice is wrong on several levels. The cries from the minority community that "driving while black" has become a crime is unfortunately true in far too many cases. And yet, when the issue is violent crime, common sense tells you to go where that criminal element lives. And if race is the common thread, then that's where you go.

I've given this example countless times in countless ways. If police are putting a major emphasis on the growing concerns of methamphetamines, then by all means, target the white community because statistics clearly show that's where the problem is concentrated. If the issue is crack cocaine, then target the minority community, again for the same reason.

If you look at a recap of crime statistics in Sikeston last year, the arrest numbers are amazingly split on an even basis based on race. The numbers are there for everyone to see. But when you target specific crimes, you go where the crimes occur regardless of the racial makeup of those involved.

Crime victims are overwhelmingly members of the neighborhoods where crimes generally occur. And it's those law-abiding, hard-working citizens who are in the greatest peril from the increase in crime. So you attack those neighborhoods and remove the offenders. That has nothing to do with race; that has everything to do with removing criminals from a community.

Let me repeat so there is no misunderstanding. Racial profiling is wrong. Period! But let me also repeat that police should put their resources in those areas where history and statistics show the crimes occur. Only through this common sense approach will the neighborhoods return to a law-abiding life style that all citizens deserve.

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