APA Resolution on Racial/Ethnic Profiling and Other Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Law and Security Enforcement Activities
Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives, February, 2001.
Whereas psychologists are ethically guided to "respect the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people" (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, American Psychological Association, 1992, Principle D, p. 3-4); and
Whereas "psychologists are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to the community and the society in which they work and live" (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, American Psychological Association, 1992, Principle F, p. 4); and
Whereas the ways in which people react to racial/ethnic differences between themselves and others may reveal racial/ethnic biases; and that the responses to these biases can "operate without conscious intervention or awareness" (Jones, 1997a; Jones, 1997b; Mio & Awakuni, 2000; Ridley, 1995); and
Whereas some law and security enforcement officers may use stereotypical notions to determine alleged suspects of criminal behavior in a variety of circumstances including: traffic stops, border stops, "out of place" stops such as questioning of racial/ethnic minorities in predominantly White suburban areas and in other locations and venues where law and security officers might perceive ethnic minorities as being "out of place", disturbances in education environments, and other situations where local, state, or federal law and security enforcement have independent decision making authority (American Civil Liberties Union, 1999; American Psychological Association, 2000; Bachman, 1996; Government Accounting Office, 2000; Harris, 1997; Irving, 1989); and
Whereas it has been reported that members of racial/ethnic minority groups are stopped by police more often than majority group members (American Civil Liberties Union, 1999; Government Accounting Office, 2000; Wordes, Bynum, & Corley, 1994); and
Whereas it has been reported that of people who are stopped, more African Americans and other racial/ethnic minorities report being treated unfairly as compared to White/European Americans (American Civil Liberties Union, 1999; American Psychological Association, 2000; Cervantes, Salgado de Snyder, & Padilla, 1989; Jackson & Volckens, 1998; Norris, 1992; Vrana & Rollock, 1996); and
Whereas reliable statistics regarding the prevalence of racial/ethnic profiling and other racial/ethnic disparities in law and security enforcement activities and research on related psychological effects on victims and communities of color are quite limited (American Psychological Association, 2000);
Thereforebe it resolved that:
The American Psychological Association (APA) advocates for and encourages research efforts to investigate:
(a) the role of racial/ethnic bias and stereotyping in traffic stops, other law enforcement activities, and security activities (e.g., airport and border security);
(b) the prevalence of racial/ethnic profiling and racial/ethnic disparities in law enforcement and security activities; and
(c) related effects on individuals, communities of color, and law and security enforcement officers and agencies.
Also, APA should promote programs to increase awareness of local, state, and federal government officials, as well as the public, about issues and concerns related to racial/ethnic profiling and other racial/ethnic disparities in law and security enforcement.
APA also should encourage the development of strong community-police relationships.
APA also should promote programs that help law/security enforcement agencies recognize and overcome racial/ethnic profiling and other racial/ethnic disparities in law and security enforcement.
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Jones, J. (1997a, August 14). Can America be colorblind? Research finding suggest not; even well-intentioned people are influenced by racial bias. News Release of: Can or should America be color-blind: Psychological research reveals fallacies in a color-blind response to racism? [Brochure]. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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Ridley, C.R. (1995). Overcoming unintentional racism in counseling and therapy: A practitioner's guide to intentional intervention. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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Vrana, S. R., & Rollock, D. (1996). The social context of emotion: Effects of ethnicity and authority/peer status on the emotional reports of African American college students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 297-306.
Wordes, M., Bynum, T. S., & Corley, C. (1994). Locking up youth: The impact of race on detention decisions. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 31, 140-165.