By Timothy M. Phelps, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Monday will unveil its new policy expanding a ban on federal law enforcement officers’ use of profiling in investigations.
The revised guidelines will broaden a 2003 prohibition on religious or ethnic profiling. The policy will bar profiling based on religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, as the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
For the first time, the policy will also apply to local law enforcement officers participating in federal task forces.
But the policy will not apply to Border Patrol officers working “in the vicinity of the border,” nor the Transportation Security Administration and other officers working at airports. The Secret Service will not be covered either.
The new policy was described by a Justice Department official as one of Attorney Genera Eric Holder’s “signature accomplishments,” which he pushed hard to finalize before his planned departure early next year.
“As attorney general, I have repeatedly made clear that 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 to be released Monday.
“Particularly 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 practices,” Holder said.
He was alluding to incidents in New York and Ferguson, Mo., in which unarmed black men died during encounters with white police officers. Those deaths have led to protests across the nation.
The Justice official said that Holder intends to “aggressively” impose the changes and that the attorney general hopes they become a model for state and local authorities. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the policy before its official announcement.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said the exclusions for certain Border Patrol and TSA activities did not mean that profiling would be freely allowed, but that it would be permissible to rely in part on the banned characteristics “because of the unique nature of border and transportation security.”
AFP Photo/Alex Wong