When the federal government came out with new profiling guidelines, I was hopeful that something good would come out of the high-profile incidents involving the police and minority communities. However, it looks like the government is just as slow to change as society is.
Monday the federal government released new guidelines that impact profiling done by police officers, which limits profiling on the basis of religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Wait a minute, something seems to be missing from that list: race, ethnicity.
Once again, the black, Hispanic, Muslim and other racial/ethnic communities find themselves left out in the cold by the federal government, which only serves to reinforce the anger fueled by the recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York. Talk about lip service and just doing something to say you are doing something. Turns out these new federal guidelines have been in the works for quite some time and actually have nothing to do with the recent incidents. Or maybe the timing of the release does, but not the guidelines themselves.
In fact, when you look more closely, these guidelines are not even mandatory standards. They are suggestions to local law enforcement. That’s right: No one is required to follow them, and thus, let’s face it, they will likely be ignored. What motivation does a local police department have to implement these guidelines? None.
Now, the new guidelines do impact federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI, the DEA and ATF. But they do not stop profiling at airports or at border security checkpoints. That, and the fact that the very group of officials who are exempt from the guidelines (local police) are the ones who most often interact with everyday citizens, is what has many usual supporters of the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder up in arms.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it best: “It's so loosely drafted that its exceptions risk swallowing any rule and permit some of the worst law enforcement policies and practices that have victimized and alienated American Muslim and other minority communities ... This guidance is not an adequate response to the crisis of racial profiling in America."
This whole announcement reeks of government just wanting to look like they are doing something in response to a major problem. This is the very definition of smoke and mirrors. This is not going to help anybody, at least not the ones in dire need of the federal government stepping up to do what local authorities and grand juries just won’t.
Photo Credit: www.huffingtonpost.com, Wikimedia Commons