New Jersey’s Racial Profiling Policy prohibits police officers from making law enforcement decisions based on ethnicity or race. Having legislation like this in place is only one part of the solution, however, because even though racially-motivated traffic stops are illegal, they do still happen.
What should you do if you suspect you have been illegally profiled in this way?
During the incident
Remain calm. There have been far too many tragedies of traffic stops gone wrong. The responsibility of safe interaction lies with both police officers and civilians, so try to take extra caution if you suspect you have been racially profiled.
Always keep your hands in plain view. Place them on the top of the steering wheel and inform the officer of what you are doing, like getting your driver’s license, before you do it.
After the incident
Consider writing down the events leading up to the stop and your interaction with the officer. If you are able to document this immediately following the incident you may have a better chance at remembering key details. What did the cop say to you? What traffic law did they claim you violated?
Prior to any possible future incidents, know your rights. An officer can stop you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic violation. However, if signaled to pull over, you must do so. An officer cannot search your car unless there is reasonable and articulable suspicion you have or are about to commit a crime.