Wichita Falls, TX -
The United States Department of Justice released its revised racial profiling guidance for federal law enforcement on Monday. It bans profiling based on race and several other factors.
A review of this policy was first launched when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took office. According to the DOJ, the purpose of this revision was to make sure "law enforcement agencies conduct their activities in an unbiased manner."
The revised guidance will expand beyond race and ethnicity. It now includes bans profiling on the basis of gender, national origin, sexual orientation, and general identity. The Attorney General briefly spoke about the guidelines Tuesday when touring a juvenile detention center that educates youth in Virginia.
"I think this is a very substantial step forward on the part of what we're doing certainly with regard to the Justice Department components and those law enforcement agencies that work with us," said U.S. Attorney General Holder.
While a ban on profiling has expanded for federal law enforcement, it does not apply to those conducting airport screenings or border checks. It also does not apply to local law enforcement but the attorney general hopes local police departments across the country will look at this policy as a model to properly police without violating a persons rights.
Newschannel 6 reached out to the Wichita Falls Police Department about their policy. Sgt. Harold McClure, Public Information Officer for WFPD said the police department has been working under what is called a biased based profiling program for a few years now. It ensures officers on the force do not discriminate against anyone one the basis of race or any other factor. Sgt. McClure said the department's policy is align with the DOJ's revised guidance to end racial profiling.
The program requires all officers to receive training. It is also mandated by the state in order for officers to maintain their licenses. The current bans police from profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and even economic status. He went on to say despite having to follow these protocols he believes officers on the street still manage to police properly.
"We still have a job to do and we still have laws that have to be enforced aggressively to investigate broken laws," said Sgt. McClure. "We train our officers in a way that we're able to aggressively pursue those that break the law, but still maintain and secure everyone's rights."
When asked Sgt. McClure what WFPD could take away from the current conversation be had across the country about race relations and distrust many communities have with police departments, he said maintaining an open line of communication with the community you serve is key. McClure said their department is very fortunate to work in a community when problems arise residents are willing to bring them forth to find how they can be addressed.
Officials at the police department said if anyone in the community has concerns about improper policing they are asked to contact the police department and their Internal Affairs department will look into the matter.