WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (both D-Md.) were joined by representatives from the law enforcement and civil rights communities to discuss federal, state and local efforts to end discriminatory profiling by police and enact meaningful criminal justice reform. Today’s briefing follows a recent national poll signaling strong and crosscutting support for a national ban on discriminatory profiling. Despite popular opinion and data proving that the practice is inefficient, there is no national prohibition against discriminatory profiling. A video of the briefing can be streamed here.
“Your constitutional rights should not change based on where you live or where you travel. This is what is happening to millions of law-abiding Americans without a nationwide ban on discriminatory profiling. The reason for ending discriminatory profiling should be clear: it is against the values that we as Americans stand for and fight to defend. It’s counterproductive. As we’ve seen, it also can be deadly,” said Senator Cardin. “We need a single national standard to define what constitutes racial and discriminatory profiling and to outlaw practices that waste resources and damage relationships between law enforcement and the communities they protect. I thank the diverse group of panelists and observers who gathered today to help make progress on this issue. I extend special thanks to Attorney General Frosh for making Maryland a national leader in ending discriminatory profiling.”
“Those of us in public office have a responsibility to rebuild trust between our communities and the law enforcers who keep them safe. It is sadly clear that those relationships have become badly frayed — particularly in black communities, but also in many other places,” said Maryland Attorney General Frosh. “I firmly believe that ending discriminatory profiling means better police work, better police work means stronger and safer communities. I am proud to have led the effort to end racial profiling in Maryland and strongly support Senator Cardin’s efforts to do the same nationwide.”
Speaking in support of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, Prince George’s County, MD Sheriff Melvin C. High said, “Excellence in policing within the boundaries of the Constitution is not in opposition to the idea that policing can be effective, smart and compassionate, and 21st Century policing must always occur in an environment that promotes ethical behavior”.
“While issues of mistrust and accountability from law enforcement have plagued communities of color for decades, we are encouraged by the attention and action from Senator Cardin’s office and now the state of Maryland to pass legislation that would prevent the use of racial profiling by law enforcement officers; improve data collection at all levels; require training and enforcement measures; and ensure oversight by the Department of Justice,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). “This is especially critical for South Asian communities who have been unjustly targeted, profiled, and surveilled by law enforcement, especially since 9/11.”
“Racial profiling not only goes against our Constitution, but also our country’s values of equality and equal justice under law. It also hinders law enforcement officials from doing their job and using their scarce resources effectively,” said Jennifer Bellamy, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union. “Congress should make it a priority to end the practice in this country by passing the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA).”
“In order to combat racial bias in its conscious and unconscious forms, it is critical that police receive the proper training and guidelines in order to enhance officers’ opportunities and ability to engage meaningfully with the communities they serve,” said Dr. Linda R. Tropp, a professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Senator Cardin has been working to end racial profiling and broader discriminatory profiling on the national level for years. In the 114th Congress he has introduced three bills containing provisions to do so. In response to the April unrest in Baltimore, Senator Cardin introduced legislation designed to address many of the core issues that have led to an erosion of trust among communities and law enforcement. S. 1610, officially named the “BALTIMORE Act,” would help communities nationwide by “Building And Lifting Trust In order to Multiply Opportunities and Racial Equality” (BALTIMORE). Along with Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), Senator Cardin reintroduced The End Racial Profiling Act, S. 1056/H.R. 1933, which is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws by eliminating racial profiling through changing the policies and procedures underlying the practice. It also promotes best practices in community based law enforcement. In October, Senator Cardin introduced the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA), S. 2168. The legislation takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of police accountability and building trust between police departments and the communities they protect. This legislation also provides incentives for local police organizations to voluntarily adopt performance-based standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct will be reduced through appropriate management, training and oversight protocols.
In August, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh issued guidance to guidance to end discriminatory profiling in Maryland. In doing so, Maryland became the first state to issue guidance on discriminatory profiling that follows the principles laid out by former Attorney General Eric Holder late last year.