Racial Bias. Louisiana is not an easy place to avoid racial inequalities in criminal arrests leading to black adults making up close to 68% of the Louisiana prison population. Disparities between police treatment of white people and black people in Baton Rouge are evident in the fact that a black person was 6 times as likely to be arrested for a marijuana possession charge even though marijuana use is similarly used by both black and white people in Baton Rouge. This statistic is just a grain of sand to showcase how misdemeanor charges can be trumped up for more serious charges, as police disproportionately arrest and ticket more black people leading to prosecutions and prison time.
Change to illegal police practices. Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of two white Baton Rouge Police Officers on July 5, 2016 brought much needed attention to the prejudice and tension in the capital of Louisiana regarding police treatment due to skin color. Evident police prejudice and vitriol has longstanding history, evidenced early on in the 1960s civil rights marches, continuing with illegal search and seizure activities witnessed by state police from other regions who came in to assist after Hurricane Katrina, and the most recent military-like response to the protests after Alton Sterling’s death causing a law suit against the City of Baton Rouge. Black communities in Baton Rouge are noted for being over-policed and can be dangerous for anyone who speaks out against the obvious police brutality. The fear that is instilled in the communities is a clear violation of citizen’s First Amendment right to free speech. While fiscal priorities in the State are being addressed regarding the burgeoning prison systems and the need for sentence reform to reduce prison populations, the human priority is somehow being overlooked. Saving over $200 million dollars by reducing incarceration of persons in Louisiana is not addressing the fact that many of these individuals should not have been there in the first place.
Independent studies have revealed that Baton Rouge and surrounding Louisiana police officers have not even taken first steps to draft internal policies on racial profiling. When departments can produce existing policy, it is skeletal and does not make it clear to officers that racial profiling at any level is unacceptable. The recent scourge of police brutality sweeping the United States should jump out at the Baton Rouge Police Department and make them fervently work at restoring community trust and respect internally, and from other police departments in the country. Measures to stamp out racial profiling are imperative to remedy this negative and dangerous practice with the hopes of resolving historical tensions in the communities and making true attempts to gain trust or respect from its black citizens.
Baton Rouge Policy Development and Officer Training. Baton Rouge Police Department must adopt and enforce effective racial profiling policy and guidelines, showcasing negative consequences if they do not adhere to those policies. The State of Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal justice, as the governing entity, should create reforms to curb unconstitutional and negative practices within its cities. Racial profiling hinders effective police presence in the communities because it destroys trust and respect. If citizens are being stopped, searched, arrested, demeaned, and victims of aggressive police encounters, reducing criminal activities becomes harder because communities will not trust law enforcement enough to share any knowledge or details of crimes in their neighborhoods. The policies should support techniques that allow a reasonable balance of force sufficient to control the specific encounter at hand.
Actions to Take to Avoid Being a Victim of Racial Bias Brutality.
- If you have been illegally detained, searched or had any of your property seized by a Baton Rouge police officer, do not escalate the situation by counter aggression. Let them arrest you and when you get to a place where there are more people, not just law enforcement officers, tell your side of the story.
- If you are victimized by racial profiling, make sure you have evidence. Eye-witnesses are important, get names and contact information. Take photos at the scene or video-tape incident or if you suspect someone videotaped incident, ask them for help.
- Get medical attention to assess your injuries and get a formal report by physician so you will have it if you need it for proof in a court of law.
- File a misconduct report with a supervisor or higher authority of law. If you are afraid to do so with the Baton Rouge Police Department, hire an attorney or file a complaint with the Department of Justice.
If you are not certain if you have been a victim of excessive force or unlawful search and seizure activities based on racial bias in Baton Rouge Louisiana, contact a civil rights lawyer for a consultation. There are various federal and state laws that insure remedy to individuals who have suffered the negative effects of police brutality, and you should seek professional legal help to file a complaint and have them review your case to see if you can file a claim and sue for damages.