I make it absolutely no secret that I read USA Today on a daily basis.  If I miss a day, I feel a bit out of sorts.  I find it to be balanced and fair based on my own experience with what I've read, and so far the personal interactions I've had with some of the writers, have all been professional.

So let me preface, this article that I'm about to write, by saying, I am in no meaning to bash USA Today.  However, the article on the front page of today [ November 29-Dec 1 edition ] is causing me some concern.  I'm conflicted  by what I am reading and since it's a 'Special Report' and took up over a full page, and made the front page of not just the sports section, but was actually the lead story, I wanted to share my thoughts.

I have not yet finished reading the article.  However, I have skimmed it, and read the first few paragraphs.  Of course, the title of the article is what caught my interest.  It is, "Is profiling behind arrests of black NFL players?"  Now, if you know me, you know I have an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice.  I earned this undergrad degree at AIU, and I have a graduate degree from Boston University.  My graduate degree, is also in Criminal Justice.  I have further advanced my education by completing all of the classes for a PhD in Public Policy Administration with a specialization in law.  All that, and I work in the capacity of promoting sports radio and doing social media in the 'sports' industry. So you can see why an article like this grabs my attention.  

Now even with my education and experience working within various court systems, mostly in a volunteer role, I still don't consider myself an authority on the law.  I do, however, consider myself a person who knows what to look for when something is being written about a legal case.  I also consider myself someone who will pay attention to the fine print when it comes to matters like this.  Matters like this, being racism and profiling, and law enforcement and the criticism of their work. [  Dating an NYPD detective for ten years also gave me some pretty good insight.  So I just think I know a little bit about matters like this. ] 

I'm not going to say that blacks are not profiled.  I'm also not going to suggest that they are.  What I want to say is that articles such as this can be a bit misleading.  First of all, racism is like a buzz word.  It's big news if there is racism within law enforcement.  I'm sure there are racist cops by the way, that's not anything  I will dispute.  I also think there are several non-racist cops out there who do one hell of a job being fair.  Of course, they usually don't make the papers.

Now this article, begins by detailing about how a police office in Cincinnati watched a large black man get into his car and turn on the engine after being told it was illegally parked.  What's wrong with this statement?  Anything?  The next sentence, and a new paragraph [ not sure why ] states "The officer thought the man was trying to avoid a parking ticket and told him to stop." { Okay so I'd like to know when the man, yes the big black man was told to stop. }  We then learn the man was Matthias Askew, who at the time was an NFL player. [By the way, the article I'm writing about, was written by Brent Schrotenboer. ] In the article, he goes on to share that, " [Askew ] stopped his Cadillac Escalade,  got out and was arrested in a scuffle with several officers. Police used a stun gun on Askew four times alleging he resisted arrest." Okay, I'm not going to dispute the accounting, and Schrotenboer states that Askew was cleared of all charges.  If this happened in this way, and if the man was arrested without probable cause of wrong doing, and if the man was tased for simply being a 'big black man' that sucks.  Nobody deserves to be treated like that, and again while I don't know the facts, assuming this is what happened, it's just unfortunate that this would happen in today's day and age.  [ I am a bit curious to know why Askew didn't stop if asked to stop, but okay let's move beyond that. Maybe the cop wanted his autograph, and Askew didn't feel like being bothered, and or maybe a million things.  Like I said, I don't know and am not really disputing the facts of the case. ]

What bugged me a bit about the title of the story is the "Profiling" and arrests, and a comment further down where Schrotenboer talks about how Civil Rights activists say you need to have "Probable Cause" to be stopped.  This, I don't think is truly accurate, and I question whether it's "Probable Cause" or "Reasonable Suspicion" and I caution everyone to know the difference.  I just think it's a good idea to know as much about the law as you can, because it's important, for all of us to know what to do when we are stopped by police, and also know whether it's fair or not.  What is "Probable Cause" anyway?  Do you know? 

The article then goes on to say, "For many black players in the NFL, it's a familiar scene.  My question is, "What's a familiar scene?"  Being tased by law enforcement, being arrested or being questioned for parking illegally.  The article then states that "of the 687 NFL player arrests since 2000, Askew's was one of the 294 that came in a traffic stop."  What 'traffic stop' I thought the car was illegally parked and he watched the man get into his car and turn on the engine after being told it was illegally parked.  Was he asked to stop and didn't?  I don't know without the details of the case, I was just really confused.

So without getting into the details of the case, cause they weren't there, I turn to what I thought was interesting.   I find it interesting  that there were only 687 NFL players arrested since 2000.  Now, I would like to suggest that if the NFL players, and several of them are black, and they are being targeted for 'profiling behind the arrests' then well there sure isn't much profiling going on, cause that's not that many arrests.  or is it?  Well, I don't know how do we know.  That's thirteen years, right?  So in thirteen years there have been 687 arrests?    According to Schrotenboer,  "Of the 687 total player arrests in the USA TODAY Sports database that spans 14 seasons, 607 involved black players-88%, a disproportionate rate sociologists attribute to several social factors in the ..." That is probably very similar to the disproportionate number in the prison system, but you need to know, too it's not that simple to determine profiling.  Just because there is a disproportionate number doesn't mean that there is profiling.  I guess I would just like to caution people not to assume this to be the case, yet sadly it might happen.  However, let's also look at how many 'big black men' in the NFL have never been arrested.  What's that number?   and what does that tell us about society? 

Now here's an interesting comment.  "You see a young, black kid in a nice ride, and chances are he's an athlete.  Sometimes you get labeled." Apparently Santana Moss said that.  What's very cool, is he didn't say, you think he's a drug dealer, or that he stole the car.  Okay, I'm going to stop here because I've not finished the article yet.  What I want to say, is that let's look at this a different way, if we can.  Let's take a look at those arrests, and see what they are for.  Let's see what the demographics are, but also let's also look at the big picture.  How many big black men driving nice rides have not gotten pulled over today?  How many police officers are not profiling a young man just because he's black.  Let's take the stats and do something amazing and move forward to determine what happened in those cases where NFL players did get arrested?  What happened?  How many arrests were for Domestic Violence, Drugs, DUI, etc., and then let's go forward and see what we can doing about reducing the number rather than focus on the profiling, and racism buzz word, let's focus on the remedy for what might be preventing those arrests that did happen for having probable cause ... well you get it.  That's just what I'd like to focus on.