The history of search and seizure in minority neighborhoods of the United States dates to the era of slavery. Measures of confiscation were introduced by the colonial governance of South Carolina, which subjected the black people to frequent and mandatory abduction conducted by slave patrols. In 1712, the South Carolina slave patrol conducted a biweekly search of the black slaves, where they forcibly searched their homes for weapons and detained those who seemed suspicious (Can & Frantzen, 2019). Search and seizure is a criminal law terminology describing the action of law enforcement agents’ examination of a suspect’s property such as a home, vehicle, or business to find evidence for a certain crime. A seizure occurs when law enforcement agents take possession of a suspect’s property during the search, with the belief that such property is associated with a crime. The above-mentioned issue in America today is an aspect impacting racial disparities, which affects the minority neighborhood.
According to the 4th and 14th amendments of the American Constitution, search and seizure must be reasonable. Law enforcement agencies should obtain a search warrant with specifications as to who and where to search properties that might be seized. Police departments across the United States and especially the narcotic unit highly target black Americans and Hispanic communities in a manner resembling the slave patrols of the colonial period. For instance, the North Carolina highway patrol highly targets and stops Hispanic and Black American motorists along the highways for inspection for drug trafficking among other criminal evidence without a warrant. Many searches and seizures in American minority neighborhoods are associated with racial profiling, in that White police officers discriminate against racial minorities and it is a major concern for law enforcement agents. Based on law and economics, search and seizure is a significant aspect of providing efficient policing across the country.
However, this procedure in minority neighborhoods is driven by the hit rates of criminal activities associated with minority communities in America. However, minority communities see it as an aspect of racial profiling by discriminative American White police. Arguably, the proponent of whether criminal hit rates in minority neighborhoods match the search and seizure rates is a question of moral and legal acceptance of the argument. Data collected around America indicates that racial minorities are highly un-proportionate to search and seizure at higher rates compared to whites. Notably, factors influencing police officers’ examinations are based on complex decisions, indicating that race is not the sole factor to have increased rates of seizure in minority neighborhoods.
The main purpose of confiscation according to the law and economic approach posits, is to discover contraband such as illegal drugs among other criminalized items. At times, the hit rate considered by law enforcement agents in the United States is proportionate to searches yielding contraband. In the occurrence where search yields for minority neighborhoods and white neighborhoods are relatively equivalent, there is no indication of ratio discrimination. However, the contrary is true since most searches and seizures are conducted in a minority neighborhood compared to a white neighborhood, resulting in high hit rates than in the white neighborhood. It is a clear indication of racial profiling based on search and seizure activity conducted in minority neighborhoods of the United States. Racial disparities in the United States contribute to increased search and seizure in minority neighborhoods as compared to white neighborhoods.
Can S. H., & Frantzen, D. (2019) Search and seizure jurisprudence: Community perceptions of police legitimacy in the United States. In: Albrecht J., den Heyer G., Stanislas P. (Eds). Policing and minority communities. Springer, Cham. Web.