It’s getting on in the evening (read: dark) and your cruising along on the freeway amongst a bunch of other cars.
There are big cars. There are little cars. There are new cars and there are old cars.
The one thing they have in common to an officer sitting on the side of road? Headlights. They all have them on.
One pair of headlights appear to be traveling at a faster rate of speed than all the rest. Like, to the tune of 25 mph faster than all the rest. For those of you with questionable math skills, that’s 90 mph on the freeway. I think we can all agree that speed is excessive, right?
The officer decides the driver of those wicked fast headlights needs some personal attention and thus the traffic stop ensues. The driver receives a citation, to which he takes umbrage, so he decides to fight the ticket in traffic court.
And it is in traffic court where he drops a bomb on the officer, the judge, and all of those in attendance.
He. Was. Profiled!
Well, he wasn’t. His car was.
At night. From 1,000 feet away. In the dark.
Folks, let me start by saying profiling is not what you think it is. You’ve taken a word that had one application and mistakenly applied it to a myriad of things. The original intent of the term was only supposed to be used in conjunction with the word “racial”. See, racial profiling is bad. Allow me to define it for you.
Actually, I’m gonna let Siri do it for you. Here’s what she found:
“A form of racism consisting of the (alleged) policy of policemen who stop and search vehicles driven by persons belonging to particular racial groups.”
We’ll call that close enough for government work, shall we?
In layman’s terms, that means a cop stops a vehicle based solely on the race of the person(s) inside that car. It’s illegal, inexcusable, immoral, and all around shitty.
When separated from the word “racial”, however, profiling becomes one of a cop’s best allies.
You read that right.
I profile every day and so does every other cop worth a damn.
We profile criminals. We profile behavior. And, yes, we can indeed profile cars…and so do you.
If some shady dude sits outside your house in a car unfamiliar to your area, you’re going to wonder why. If a car drives aimlessly around your neighborhood with what looks to you like some nefarious types, you’re going to be suspicious. If cars consistently stop in front of your neighbor’s house and people of questionable intent are constantly coming and going, you’re going to profile that house and it’s occupants as possibly being up to no good.
When someone violates the vehicle code, it gives me probable cause to stop that car, contact and identify the occupants, and have a little chat with them about their intentions. It’s not harassment, it’s good police work.
That all being said, though, the fact that I heard a defendant make the claim in court on the morning of which I write this very post is amusing based on the fact that his whole basis of defense was that the officer profiled his (I assume) shitty car.
My only response to him is, “Young man, if you hadn’t been driving your mom’s 1984 Buick Skylark at the speed of heat, you wouldn’t have been stopped in the first place.”