The Slatest

Justice Department Announces New Limits on Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement

A female traveler is screened at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2002.  

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The Obama administration released a new set of guidelines on Monday aimed at curtailing the profiling of specific groups by law enforcement. The Justice Department issued the expanded rules prohibiting profiling on the basis of race, religion, national identity, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity by federal law enforcement—such as the FBI. The new policy broadens the Bush administration’s 2003 policy that banned racial and ethnic profiling, except for cases of national security. The new rules, however, “won’t apply to screening at borders and airports, where Department of Homeland Security personnel have long given extra scrutiny to people from certain countries,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The policy also doesn’t apply to local or state law enforcement, beyond those personnel assigned to federal task forces.”

Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the review to the Justice Department policy in 2009 and the new guidlines were announced this week as local police tactics faced enormous criticism following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. While the newly announced guidelines extend the restrictions on the use of profiling, “[c]oncerns about racial profiling on the part of civil-liberties groups mostly have to do with traffic stops and pat-downs of pedestrians,” according to the Journal. “Because federal law-enforcement agents rarely engage in those activities, barring them from profiling may have little impact on how and why people are stopped in their everyday lives.”