The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is one that many people are familiar with – it is the portion of what is known as the “Bill of Rights” that prohibits searches and seizures that are not reasonable. It also requires probable cause for the issuance of warrants. Part of the Fourth Amendment (the portion on unreasonable seizures) includes arrests. An individual cannot, for example, be placed in custody in the back of a law enforcement vehicle for minor violations or infractions.
Yet, this is exactly the type of thing that has become routine in some desert cities on the outskirts of Los Angeles County due to the racial profiling practices of the police in the Mojave Desert, specifically in Palmdale and Lancaster. These traditionally primarily white areas of the state have experienced an influx of Latino and African American residents over the past few years has evidently caused racial tensions to mount, including a higher rate of racial profiling by agents of the law and of hate crimes. Members of the community who have relocated to the area began to notice that they were being treated differently by police officers – some of whom have gone so far as to harass and intimidate members of ethnicities other than white. For example, African Americans have unfairly been placed in the back of patrol cars unnecessarily and both blacks and Latinos are much more likely to be stopped and cited for very minor offenses.
Although LA County officials have made great strides in attempting to revamp and reform the entire system, specifically in places like Antelope Valley, citizens still express concern over the continuing reluctance of local law enforcement officials to admit to any wrongdoing in these stations.