U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
GUIDANCE REGARDING THE
USE OF RACE BY FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
As adapted by the US DOJ Civil Rights Division (Justice.Gov), in his February 27, 2001, Address to a Joint Session of Congress, President George W. Bush declared that racial profiling is “wrong and we will end it, in America.” He directed the Attorney General to review the use by Federal law enforcement authorities of race as a factor in conducting stops, searches, and other law enforcement investigative procedures. The Attorney General, in turn, instructed the Civil Rights Division to develop guidance for Federal officials to ensure an end to racial profiling in law enforcement.
“Racial profiling” at its core, concerns the invidious use of race or ethnicity as a criterion in conducting stops, searches, and other law enforcement investigative procedures. It is premised on the erroneous assumption that any particular individual of one race or ethnicity is more likely to engage in misconduct than any particular individual of another race or ethnicity.
Racial profiling in law enforcement is not merely wrong, but also ineffective. Race-based assumptions in law enforcement perpetuate negative racial stereotypes that are harmful to our rich and diverse democracy and materially impair our efforts to maintain a fair and just society. (1)
The use of race as the basis for law enforcement decision-making clearly has a terrible cost, both to the individuals who suffer invidious discrimination and to the Nation, whose goal of “liberty and justice for all” recedes with every act of such discrimination. For this reason, this guidance in many cases imposes more restrictions on the consideration of race and ethnicity in Federal law enforcement than the Constitution requires. (2) This guidance prohibits racial profiling in law enforcement practices without hindering the important work of our Nation’s public safety officials, particularly the intensified anti-terrorism efforts precipitated by the events of September 11, 2001.