Race should only be considered when it is used to describe a specific suspect in a specific crime and only when used in a manner like other physical descriptions (e.g., hair color, weight, distinguishing marks). This is often referred to as the "be on the lookout" (B.O.L.O.) exception.
"If we know that in our criminal justice system, African-Americans and whites, for the same crime, receive--are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, receive very different sentences. That is something that we have to talk about. But that's a substantive issue and it has to do with how do we pursue racial justice. If I am president, I will have a civil rights division that is working with local law enforcement so that they are enforcing laws fairly and justly. But I would expect a white president or a woman president should want to do the same thing, because I believe the pursuit of racial equality, of the perfection of this union, is not just a particular special interest issue of the African-American community. That is how all of us are going to move forward. And to the extent that we don't deal with those issues, those longstanding, deep-seated issues, we will continue to be hampered. We will be competing with the world with one hand tied behind our backs." 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008
Q: In the last decade, whites were 70% of persons arrested, but only 40% of inmates. Why?
A: The criminal justice system is not color blind. It does not work for all people equally, and that is why it's critical to have a president who sends a signal that we are going to have a system of justice that is not just us, but is everybody. I passed racial profiling legislation at the state level. It requires some political courage, because oftentimes you are accused of being soft on crime.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007