Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

As I was driving home from taking my three year old son to school this morning I overheard a conversation on the radio about a Harvard professor being arrested for breaking into his own home.  There was a slight debate as to whether or not this was a form of racial profiling because Professor Gates happened to be a black man.  In disgust I turned the volume down but a few moments later something made me turn it back up.  That something was your voice and a particular description of the police force that I found to be quite shocking!  I thought for a moment that perhaps I had heard wrong but lucky for me several radio stations were replaying your comments on the incident and so it was confirmed.  You stated "the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody" and went on to mention "the long history within this country of African American and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement officers disproportionately...."

I am the wife of a police officer and have worked as a law enforcement dispatcher for the past three years.  Needless to say my blood was boiling and as a matter of fact it still is.  Because I myself was exposed to the level of crime that male and female law enforcements officers are faced with on a daily basis, I think I may have more of an idea than you.  Because I had to listen to my husband over a radio 50 miles away become nervous on a traffic stop in the middle of the night - I think I may have more of an idea than you.  I've had to listen to the sound of my husband's voice after just being involved in a major accident because of a drunk driver and because of this I think I may have more of an idea than you.  Every day that my husband goes to work he is putting his life on the line.  He is putting the life that we have built together on the line to serve and protect innocent people from becoming innocent victims.  Every night that he works I am unable to sleep and every morning he is expected to come home I pray that he does. 

I am fortunate that my husband has worked with two agencies whose crime rates are not as high as others.  But every time he makes an arrest he must drive through certain areas of Miami that I wouldn't see my worst enemy through. 

As I'm sure you already know but perhaps others may not, the statistics from national crime rates are drawn from a federal survey called the National Crime Victimization Survey.  If I understand correctly, this survey is given to hundreds of thousands of victims in America and asks them among other questions about the race of the criminals who victimized them.  The results of these surveys are almost entirely consistent with the results of arrest records.  Wouldn't you know it, the majority of these surveys and arrest records indicated that blacks and Hispanics are the victimizers of these crimes. 

Police officers make use of what criminological surveys tell us about who is and who isn't likely to commit certain crimes so that violent criminals don't go un-apprehended.  Otherwise, what's the purpose of the survey?  Perhaps in order to eliminate "racial profiling" we should do away with the survey all together.

I think it's safe to say that a common prejudice is that men are more likely to commit violent crimes than women, and younger people more so than older.   I don't hear you objecting to sexual discrimination or ageism for that matter.  Criminal profiling shows that serial killers are almost always white.   Police investigations of serial murders almost always target white males because of this statistic.  I haven't once heard you make mention of this in your "racial profiling" speeches.

Studies of large urban samples show that gang members are responsible for a large proportion of violent crimes.  The most recent National Youth Gang Survey indicated 35% of gang members were African American, 49% were Hispanic, 9% were white, and the remaining 7% as other.  So how do you say "no racial profiling" to the members of Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Force, whom I'm sure use these statistics in addressing the violent crimes that are plaguing our communities.

The use of firearms is a major feature of gang violence.  Gang members are far more likely to carry a fire arm than your average juvenile delinquent.  In the 2000 NYGS, 84% of the gang problems were reported to have at least once occurrence of firearm use by one or more gang members in an assault crime.  These gang members who carried guns are also likely to commit ten times more violent crimes than those who didn't carry a firearm.  So what do you say to the police officer who is aware of all these statistics and is on a traffic stop in the middle of the night with a "hooptie-like" vehicle containing 3 or more Hispanic and African American males in the middle of the worst neighborhood in North Miami Beach?   

What do you say, Mr. President?  Do you advise this officer not to place his/her hand on their firearm because that may be considered racial profiling?  Do you say stop thinking about your family and allowing your life to flash before your eyes because this is racial profiling?  Do you say ignore all of those statistics and the evidence of those statistics that you happen to see on a daily basis -- because that's racial profiling? 

Over the past four decades since the "civil rights" movement, crime statistics have shown that millions of crimes have been committed by African-Americans and other non-white predators against white people.  Some of these crimes include robbery, assault, rape and murder.  Why are these crime rates so disproportionate to the number of White crimes against Blacks and Hispanics? 

Perhaps instead of calling Police officers stupid and going on and on about how African Americans and Hispanics are victims of law enforcement officers you should ask yourself why.  Why does a law enforcement officer get nervous when he's on a call with someone who is believed to be dangerous and happens to be black or Hispanic?  Why is the crime rate so high among African Americans and Hispanics?  Why is the number of African Americans and Hispanics involved in gang related violence so much higher than that of whites?  Perhaps we should start there. 

Perhaps instead placing the blame on others for the victimization of African Americans and Hispanics you should address the fact that they are victims of themselves.  Perhaps you find a way to help them help themselves!  And then when the crime rates begin to drop among this group of people you might find that our police officers who are known to "act stupidly" might be a little less on edge.

Perhaps we should just do away with all racial profiling.  National security...   Who needs it?  I mean if we're so concerned about African Americans and Hispanics what about the Islamic extremists?  They have feelings too.

Back in 2001, FBI agent Williams wanted to investigate certain militant Muslim men whom he suspected of training in U.S. flight schools as part of al-Qaeda missions.  His recommendation was rejected by Director Robert Mueller because of concerns that the plan could be viewed as discriminatory racial profiling.  Since then Director Mueller has acknowledged that perhaps if he hadn't rejected such a notion the Twin Towers may still be standing and 3,000 innocent people may still be alive.  How about that?!

My heart goes out to all of those innocent people who are burdened because of criminals and terrorists who share their race, nationality, or religion.  But I would think any inconvenience is preferable to knowing others out there are suffering because we've decided to walk on egg shells rather than to face the real issues at hand.  Don't you?


Heather Agins
If you experience technical problems, please write to