WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), author of legislation that would ban racial profiling by all law enforcement, issued the following statement in response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) report that the policies and practices of the Ferguson, Mo., police department “reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias.” The investigation was launched following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen killed by a Ferguson police officer.
“DOJ’s review of the Ferguson police department is deeply troubling. Racial profiling is simply wrong. It doesn’t work, it wastes valuable resources and diminishes the willingness of targeted communities from trusting and working with police when the need is real,” said Senator Cardin. “The blatant abuse of power and racial targeting by Ferguson’s police are further proof of the need for a national standard that prohibits racial and discriminatory profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. We need to better educate more of our law enforcement officials in the differences between specific suspect descriptions and sweeping generalizations or profiling that wastes valuable resources. Racial profiling is un-American. It has no place within the values of our country. The people of Ferguson, and other communities across the country, have endured painful lessons of how such actions turn communities against the partnerships needed to keep our neighborhoods safe.
“We need a uniform definition of racial profiling so that law enforcement can concentrate on investigating real crimes and real leads, and men and women across the country can feel secure that they are not being pulled over or harassed by law enforcement solely based on their race, religion, national origin, or ethnicity. Beyond Ferguson, the vast majority of law enforcement officials work with professionalism, diligence, and fidelity to the rule of law. But racial profiling is tolerated in far too many states and too entrenched into the fabric of some police department cultures. We need to end this bad policy now.”
Racial profiling is defined in a standard, consistent definition as the practice of a law enforcement agent relying on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin as a factor in their investigations and activities. Senator Cardin’s legislation, the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), creates an exception for the use of these factors where there is trustworthy information, relevant to the locality and time frame, which links persons of a particular race, ethnicity, or national origin to an identified incident or scheme.