The challenge of domestic and international terrorism has changed the way the United States government approaches the problem. One of the significant initiatives in the wake of the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, was the establishment of a new Department of Homeland Security. The department would increase law enforcement capability by leveraging federal, state, local resources, and intelligence. Policymakers and leaders still contemplate the need to centralize law enforcement activities across the different levels of government to improve the capacity to deal with terrorism and crime in general. Besides, the country is not only fighting international but also domestic terrorism; thus, various perspectives inform changes in policing of terrorism, such as a crime that can be committed domestically.
The Impact of Terrorist Labelling on Policing
Labeling terrorism as a crime that can be committed domestically has changed policing in the United States. The country had witnessed terrorist acts committed locally, such as one by Robert Bowers on October 27, 2018, when he attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 worshippers and injuring many other people. Law enforcement and popular opinion in the United States hold that such crimes are of the “terrorist” label (Stewart & Ward, 2018). The labels affect policing in the country due to racial profiling, such as the belief that Islamist extremists commit such violent acts to intimidate and coerce. When law enforcement officers are investigating such crimes, they focus on the racial background or nationality and usually disregard various other factors that warrant suspicion. Young, middle eastern males are the leading victims of racial profiling in an attempt to fight terrorism in the United States. The process includes collecting personal information of those fitting the terrorist profile, including students from middle eastern countries (Loewy, 2010). Some young men undergo interrogation in connection with terrorist activities. The main reason for such an approach to policing is based on the belief that such people are the main perpetrators of domestic terrorism.
Racial Profiling Trends in the United States
As racial profiling turns into a combative strategy in the war against terrorists, the victims have increased in recent years. Reports are increasing in various arenas, including among interest groups, indicating how law enforcement officers focus on particular minority groups when fighting terrorism. The rate of racial profiling increased immediately after the September 2001 attack. While the reported number of hate crimes in the country reduced by more than 18% between 2000 and 2009, the rate of racial profiling directed to Muslims increased by more than 500% (Watson Institute, 2020). Notably, the number continued to rise after 2010. For example, many young Muslims could be stopped and interrogated in the bid to combat terrorism in the American land. The numbers indicate how legislation, such as the Patriot Act, shaped and legitimized the culture of suspicion and paranoia even in law enforcement. Recent acts, such as the Tree of Life Synagogue, only indicates that the racial profiling trend will continue to increase in the country. More Americans will fall victim to the combative strategy in law enforcement as threats of terrorism and other crimes continue to rise.
Law Protecting Racial Profiling Victims
The United States has enacted laws to protect civil liberties. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 is one of the laws that protect people from racial profiling. The law safeguards Americans from racial discrimination, which is the case in racial profiling. The Due Process and Equal Protection clauses also protect Americans from racial profiling. The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and protection from unreasonable search and seizure have similar provisions with the Fifth Amendment that protects civil liberties in the country. The law dictates that Americans should not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” (Gross, 2004). The Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause dictates that all Americans shall have the right to the “equal protection of the laws” (Hernández, 2012). The law protects all persons from any form of discrimination, including by the government. The EOCC and state and local jurisdictional statutes are available to protect victims of racial profiling. Victims of racial profiling can seek counsel and contact internal police affairs for assistance. The legal counsel will invoke the legislations to develop a remedy for the violation of the rights of their clients and to protect them against abuse.
Victims of racial profiling have the chance to seek legal redress and protection from victimization. Civil rights lawyers can help them to make formal complaints against officers perpetrating the violation of the law. Racial profiling is similar to other types of police abuse. The attorney can help the client to file a case against the offending officers in the court of law. Once the allegation is made, the court should investigate the complaint and bring the offenders to book (Hernández, 2012). It should invoke state and federal laws that are in place to protect Americans from racial profiling. The criminal justice system and other defenders of civil rights should protect the victims of racial profiling.
The Effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the September 2001 attack on the United States. The main reason and priority that led to the creation of the agency were to fight terrorism and protect Americans from terrorist threats. The agency has played an active role in fighting terrorism in the country. However, it merely duplicated the efforts and jurisdictions of other agencies in the country. Hence, it created a challenge in the working of other agencies, such as the Coast Guard and Secret Service, in maintaining security in the country. The agencies could easily create a full-time, permanent red team to understand terrorist threats to national security. At the same time, other law enforcers could test security installations across the country. The department also duplicated the role of other agencies, such as the US Border Patrol. The government could easily integrate all the law enforcement efforts in a more centralized manner to reduce the resources needed to fight terrorism and other crimes in the country. The government could collaborate with agencies to prevent further replication of roles and resources.
The domestic terrorist label has affected the way law enforcement operates in the United States. Since the September 2001 attack, the policing agencies in the country changed their approach to individuals from Muslim countries, especially in the middle east. Racial profiling became a grim reality of the United States. The discrimination is against the law because the American Constitution has established protections against any form of violation of civil rights. Law enforcement officers should be trained to understand the cost of racial profiling in the country as they improve their fight against domestic terrorism. Victims should also understand the legal protections and services available to protect their civil rights in the country. Every person in the country has the freedom of movement without the fear of discrimination and violation of their rights by law enforcement officers.
Gross, E. (2004). The struggle of a democracy against terrorism-protection of human rights: The right to privacy versus the national interest-the proper balance. Cornell Int’l LJ, 37(1), 27-93.
Hernández, T. K. (2012). Racial subordination in Latin America: the role of the state, customary law, and the new civil rights response. Cambridge University Press.
Loewy, A. H. (2010). Rethinking Search and Seizure in a Post 9/11 World. Miss. LJ, 80, 1507.
Stewart, E. & Ward, A. (2018). Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh: what we know, VOX.
Watson Institute (2020). Racial Profiling. Retrieved from https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/social/rights/profiling