DOJ Expands Rules Against Profiling and Bias

May 25, 2023

The Department of Justice on Thursday issued new guidance that emphasized investigations must be free from racial or gender bias, or bias against persons with disabilities, according to data obtained by the Associated Press.

The new anti-profiling rules are the first update to DOJ guidelines in nearly a decade. They apply to thousands more people than before, including prosecutors, lawyers, analysts and contractors, where previous guidelines—and the new ones as well—applied to DOJ agents such as the FBI, DEA and local officers who work with them on task forces. 

For the first time the updated guidelines reportedly also require more extensive data collection practices to ensure the rules are being followed.

The new rules come a year after an executive order from President Biden had charged the DOJ, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, with reviewing and updating their rules related to profiling and bias.

“Protecting public safety requires close partnerships between law enforcement and the communities it serves,” the White House said in a 2022 statement. “Public safety therefore depends on public trust, and public trust in turn requires that our criminal justice system as a whole embodies fair and equal treatment, transparency, and accountability.”

The new guidelines are aimed at rooting out bias based on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and for the first time, disability.

For example, investigators can not single out people of a certain race or faith based on a tip about a possible attack if they do not have specifics about time, date, or a full description of a suspect.

However, details regarding any of the traits mentioned in the new guidelines can potentially apply if investigators obtain additional, detailed context that’s shown to be reliable and linked to a specific incident or investigation.

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