Technically, drug officers are not supposed to target certain groups of people. They are supposed to treat everyone fairly, never assuming that people are guilty because of the way that they look or anything else.
However, in practicality, this may not always be how things work out. One officer said that he definitely targeted different groups because he’d seen that those groups were more likely to have drugs. He also claimed that the practice, no matter how bad it looked, would work.
For example, he said that he knew college students often brought drugs to parties. Therefore, while working on a highway, he’d just look for cars that had bumper stickers for local colleges. He knew those cars were more likely to be filled with students, so he’d focus on them to make a bust.
In an interview, he admitted that they also looked for cars with plates saying the driver was a Vietnam vet, or he’d just look for drivers who were of Mexican or African American heritage.
The police do need probable cause to pull a car over, but that’s not as hard to get as some people believe. For example, if the police spotted a car with a college bumper sticker and followed it, they just had to wait for the slightest mistake—like not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or driving a few miles per hour over the limit—and they could then legally pull the car over.
Do you think you’ve been unfairly targeted during a drug bust? It’s wise to know how this could impact the case in Florida.
Source: NPR, "Ex-Drug Officer Shows Users How to Avoid Arrest," Wade Goodwyn, accessed March 31, 2016