In the late 1990′s, when racial profiling, especially framed in terms like “driving while black”, was in the headlines, Congressmen like John Conyers spoke out about the possibility of legislation aimed at stopping racial profiling. Now, ten or so years later, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. and Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution,
Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Chairman Jerrold Nadler introduced H.R. 5748, End Racial Profiling Act of 2010 (ERPA).
This bill is being introduced in the context of the rising use of police tactics like stop and frisk in NYC and of course laws like Arizona’s SB1070 which make it suspicious to be alive while brown.
From the official press release announcing the legislation late last week:
“The debate over racial profiling has become a central element in a much larger history of adversarial relationships between the police and communities of color,” Conyers said. “Over the past two decades, the tensions between police and minority
communities have grown as allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement agents, sometimes supported by data collection
efforts, have increased in number and frequency. The recent passage of Arizonaʼs new immigration law has crystallized the terms
of the profiling debate and demonstrates that the combination of racial discrimination and law enforcement represents a volatile
mix across all strata of the minority community. In 2001, we achieved a bipartisan consensus with the Bush administration in
support of profiling legislation and hope that we can rebuild that momentum in support of this long overdue federal action.”
I wonder how effective legislation like this really is though.
The End Racial Profiling Act is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws by eliminating racial
profiling through changes to the policies and procedures underlying the practice. The legislation will do the following:
1. Establish a prohibition on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief.
2. Mandate training on racial profiling issues and the collection of data on both routine and spontaneous investigatory activities, as
a condition of receiving Federal law enforcement funding.
3. Authorize the Justice Department to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as
early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling.
4. Require the Attorney General to provide periodic reports to assess the nature of any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices
So if a county, say, Maricopa County in Arizona, goes through a training program could they get more money to participate in Federal programs like 287(g).
Is anyone else bothered with the idea of using the Feds as the gatekeeper when it comes to determining best policing practices?