The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund commends the efforts undertaken by the Department of Justice to update its 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. The new guidance, which expands protections against racial profiling to other characteristics–including national origin, gender, religion, and sexual orientation—is a critical step toward ensuring that law enforcement operates in a fair and impartial manner. Despite this positive development, we are disappointed by the shortcomings of the guidance, specifically its limited applicability to state and local law enforcement officials and exceptions that allow the Transportation and Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to engage in racial profiling.
Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, stated: “The updated guidance is an important step but the lack of legal accountability for recent police killings of unarmed African Americans shows that our broken justice system requires much more. We call upon the federal government to use its full panoply of powers to ensure that all law enforcement officers—who are sworn to protect the public and uphold the law—are not themselves violating the nation’s civil rights laws. We urge the Attorney General to rely on his authority to adopt strong measures to ensure that state and local police agencies are rigorously complying with federal civil rights laws and that racial profiling by law enforcement—in all its forms—is eliminated.”