Sen. Ben Cardin, D. Md., on Thursday reintroduced legislation – S. 411, the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA) – that would prohibit profiling by federal, state, local, and Indian tribal law enforcement authorities on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
“Discriminatory profiling is wrong, fosters distrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and puts public safety at risk,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “Racial profiling infringes on civil liberties and squanders resources that should be used instead to catch criminal perpetrators. We urge the Senate to stand for effective law enforcement and support ERRPA.”
The Leadership Conference and 126 other organizations sent a letter to senators on Thursday urging support for ERRPA.
“Discriminatory profiling results in a loss of trust and confidence between local, state, and federal law enforcement and the communities they serve. Although most individuals are taught from an early age that the role of law enforcement is to fairly defend and guard communities from people who want to cause harm to others, this fundamental message is often contradicted when these same defenders are seen as unnecessarily and unjustifiably harassing innocent people,” the letter states. “When law enforcement targets communities based on stereotypes, they undermine their ability to correctly identify serious criminal and terrorist threats. Investigations are flawed and hindered because people and communities impacted by these stereotypes are less likely to cooperate with law enforcement agencies they have grown to mistrust, making us all less safe. We can begin to reestablish trust in law enforcement if we act now.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in December 2014 unveiled long-awaited updates to its racial profiling guidance that was first released in June 2003 under President George W. Bush. The guidance, which initially banned profiling only on the basis of race and ethnicity, was expanded to include gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Despite that step forward, troubling exceptions and loopholes remain in the guidance – and in February 2015, 80 groups sent a letter to then-President Obama expressing their concerns.
The version of ERRPA introduced on Thursday – like the one introduced in April 2015 – mirrors the DOJ’s expansion of what discriminatory profiling in America actually looks like – and adds gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation as identity categories that law enforcement may rely on in their law enforcement practices.
Learn more about the bill here.