Jack Glaser on the Causes & Consequences of Racial Profiling

On Wednesday the 13th of November, the Security in Open Societies Hub hosted and financially supported a seminar on ethnic profiling and the possible antagonistic relationship between security and civil liberties. The seminar was organized and hosted by Ozan Ozavci – assistant professor of Transimperial History at the University of Utrecht. During this inspiring afternoon Jack Glaser – professor of public policy and social psychology at the University of California, Berkeley – gave a presentation on the phenomenon of ethnic profiling in police work for around thirty practitioners and students.

Professor Glaser is a true authority on the topic in the United States where he frequently appears on channels such as CNN to speak about the issue. He was also an expert witness during the stop-and-search trial in the city of New York leading to the abolishment of the program. During the seminar, professor Glaser spoke about the general occurrence of ethnic profiling, the statistical evidence for the issue and its problematic consequences on an individual and on a group level. By performing some clarifying experiments from social psychology, he demonstrated that the human psyche can be biased in itself, without that being the actual intention of the police officer for instance. There was reason for hope however: more restricted routines for everyday police work can decrease the negative consequences of racial profiling. In this way police practices can become more just and more effective.

Ethnic profiling in The Netherlands 

After this relevant keynote speech, Alison Fischer – doctor of law at the University of Amsterdam – took the stage to shed light on the phenomenon of ethnic profiling in the Dutch context. She also asked some interesting questions to the professor. After which there was also opportunity for the public to ask questions to professor Glaser and Dr Fischer. Afterwards the conversation continued over food and drinks. In short: an interesting seminar on the relevant and timely issue of racial profiling.