Biased Based Profiling

BIAS-BASED PROFILING:  Bias-based profiling is the selection of an individual based solely on a trait common to a group for enforcement action.  This includes, but is not limited to: race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, or any other identifiable group.

A.   Purpose: The purposes of this section are to:

1.  Unequivocally state that bias-based, racial and/or ethnic profiling in law enforcement are totally unacceptable and strictly prohibited in traffic contacts, field contacts, searches and seizures and in asset seizure and forfeiture efforts.

2.            To provide guidelines for officers to prevent occurrences of bias-based, racial and ethnic profiling; and,

3.            To protect our officers when they act within the dictates of the law and policy from unwarranted accusations.

B.   Discussion: This section is intended to assist law enforcement in accomplishing the total mission in a way that respects the dignity of all persons and yet sends a strong deterrent message to actual and potential lawbreakers that if they break the law, they are likely to encounter the police.

1.  A fundamental right that is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States to all who live in this nation is the right to equal protection under law.  Along with this right to equal protection is the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents.  Citizens are free to walk and drive our streets, highways, and other public places without police interference so long as they obey the law.  They are also entitled to be free from crime, and from the depredations of criminals, and to drive and walk our public ways safe from the actions of reckless and careless drivers.

2.  Law enforcement is charged with protecting these rights, for all, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, physical handicap, religion or other belief system.  Because of the nature of their business, law enforcement officers are required to be observant, to identify unusual occurrences and law violations, and to act upon them.  It is this proactive enforcement that keeps our citizens free from crime, our streets and highways safe to drive upon, and that detects and apprehends criminals.

C.  Policy: Agency policy in with regard to biased based profiling will follow the guidelines outlined in Florida Statutes.  It is the policy of this department to patrol in a proactive manner, to aggressively investigate suspicious persons and circumstances, and to actively enforce the motor vehicle laws, while insisting that citizens will only be stopped or detained when there exists reasonable suspicion to believe they have committed, are committing, or about to commit, an infraction of the law.

D.   Procedure: The department’s efforts will be directed toward assigning officers to those areas where there is the highest likelihood that crashes will be reduced and/or crimes prevented through proactive patrol. Motorists and pedestrians shall only be subjected to stops, seizures or detentions upon reasonable suspicion that they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit an infraction.

E.    Reasonable Suspicion:  A belief based on a set of articulable circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent person to believe that a crime has been, is being or is about to be committed.

F.  Training:  Officers will receive initial and ongoing training in proactive enforcement tactics, including training in officer safety, courtesy, cultural diversity, the laws governing search and seizure, interpersonal communications skills and legal aspects in accordance with CJSTC guidelines.  Training programs will emphasize the need to respect the rights of all citizens to be free from unreasonable government intrusion or police action.

G.  Traffic Enforcement:  Traffic enforcement will be accompanied by consistent, ongoing supervisory oversight to ensure that officers do not go beyond the parameters of reasonableness in conducting such activities. Each time a motorist is stopped the officer will issue a Uniform Traffic Citation, a written warning or make appropriate disposition comments.  The department recognizes that with experience, individual officers may develop individualized approaches that they find work best for them in minimizing conflict during officer/violator contacts.  Given some better approach, the following is recommended, in the order specified below:

1.  Give a greeting, such as “Good morning, ma’am”, “Good evening, sir,” etc.

2.  Identify yourself.  For example: “I am Officer Smith of the Fort Walton Beach Police Department”.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page