Insuring Protection


Racial profiling by police has sparked protest and debate nationwide. It has also inspired a business plan: A legal insurance company has decided that profiling's likely victims are a market waiting to be tapped.

Based in Ada, Oklahoma, Pre-Paid Legal Services offers clients telephone access to an attorney 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Subscribers, who pay $10 to $26 per month, also get a membership card to flash at police officers. The card is supposed to jolt the cops into accountability by reminding them that they're dealing with a citizen who has rights—and an attorney.

Meanwhile, several states are responding to questions about racial profiling with legislation. In July, for instance, the Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring officers searching a car to record the driver's race and gender so the data can be analyzed for patterns of bias. Cops would also have to take an anti-bias course and hand out complaint cards with a toll-free number to report discrimination.