Tags: holder | profiling | rules | limits

Holder to Issue Revised Racial Profiling Rules With New Limits

Monday, 08 Dec 2014 06:50 AM

The U.S. Justice Department will issue rules today that expand restrictions on racial and other forms of profiling by federal law enforcement officers.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has long spoken out against racial profiling, has been under pressure from civil- rights and civil-liberties groups to broaden rules put in place in 2003 that banned profiling based on race and ethnicity. The new guidelines will also prohibit profiling based on national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

“Profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust,” Holder said in a statement that previewed the policy changes, which the Justice Department was set to make public today.

The new rules come amid mass demonstrations over the use of deadly force by police against two unarmed black men, in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Local grand juries declined to indict the two officers involved in those incidents, sparking more protests in recent weeks.

The Justice Department is conducting civil-rights investigations of the incidents, and Holder and President Barack Obama have called for better relations between police and the communities they serve.

Divisive Issue

Racial profiling has been a divisive issue for decades, and authorities have long tried to find ways to curb police and federal agents from using race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation in deciding whether to target people for traffic stops, searches or other actions.

Despite pressure for groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, it has taken the Justice Department five years to update the rules. Holder said that the policy’s release is coming at the right time.

“In light of certain recent incidents we’ve seen at the local level -- and the widespread concerns about trust in the criminal justice process, which so many have raised throughout the nation -- it’s imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing strategies,” Holder said.

The policy won’t apply to security screening at airports, to interdiction efforts near the borders, or to Secret Service protective activities. It also doesn’t apply to state and local police unless they are working on federal cases.

Border Exception

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that “given the unique nature of parts of DHS’ mission -– most notably in protecting our borders and securing our skies -– some DHS activity is not covered by the policy.”

The department said that its “existing policies make it categorically clear that profiling is prohibited, while articulating limited circumstances where it is permissible to rely in part on these characteristics.”

Laura Murphy, the director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, said in a statement today that the revised rules, while marking progress, were an inadequate response in part because they won’t apply to state and local authorities.

“The President should compel all his federal police, as well as state and local agencies to adhere to the law and stop engaging in biased profiling now,” she said.

The new policy will require new training and data collection to monitor whether officers or agents engage in profiling. Holder will encourage state and local police departments to adopt the federal rules, according to a Justice Department statement.

“With this new guidance, we take a major and important step forward to ensure effective policing,” Holder said in the statement.


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The U.S. Justice Department will issue rules today that expand restrictions on racial and other forms of profiling by federal law enforcement officers. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has long spoken out against racial profiling, has been under pressure from civil- rights...
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2014-50-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 06:50 AM
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