Understanding Racial Profiling

In addressing racial profiling, it is imperative that everyone understands that in a democracy every person is equal. It is also important to understand that law enforcement is given a large amount of discretion in how they carry out their responsibilities.

Discretion allows tremendous flexibility of any law enforcement response in any given situation, and allows for a tremendous amount of law enforcement and social policy making at the point of police-citizen contact. Discretionary choices, whether and how to enforce a particular law or policy are inevitably impacted by the individual officer’s biases and prejudices, by a cultural bias and prejudice ingrained in the law, and by the prescribed policies and practices of the law enforcement agency.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department can move beyond their current state of affairs by adhering to the principles of policing in a democratic society.

  • Accountability
  • Integrity Beyond Reproach
  • Equal Enforcement of the Law
  • Value for Human Life
  • Respect for Others

Accountability in a democratic society means that the Sheriff’s Department will be accountable to the law and the community. The people have the right to expect that all law enforcement activities will conform to the spirit as well as to the letter of the Constitution. Racial profiling is a violation of the basic public trust invested in the police by society. Accountability includes all aspects of the department hiring, training, evaluations, rewards, promotions, but most importantly it covers the responsibility for the conduct of all employees and how officers exercise their authority and individual integrity.

Integrity beyond Reproach Deputy Sheriff’s as well as Police Officers in a democracy adhere to the limitations that are placed on their discretion and lawfully prescribed use of police authority in order to maintain and protect the civil liberties of every person. Because the police are granted awesome powers in a democracy and have a great deal of discretion; The potential for abuse of authority is always present. Racial profiling is an abuse of authority, police powers and discretion and is a distinct violation of integrity that strikes at the very heart of the fundamental principles on which a democracy is based—liberty, and equality before the law, fairness and human dignity.

I will develop policies as Sheriff that clearly prohibit racial profiling and have a mechanism to receive and investigate alleged violations. I will also educate the public on how to register complaints charging officer misconduct.

Equal enforcement of the law means that we must apply the same standards of justice to every member of society. Equal enforcement requires all deputies to adhere to the guidelines and dictates of the Constitution, especially the 14th Amendment that declares that all men and women are to have equal protection under the law. To complement and reinforce the principles of the Constitution, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department will follow the developed values outlined in the values section of this site.

If discretion is to be exercised in an equitable manner it must be structured; discretionary areas must be defined; policies must be developed and articulated; the official responsibility for setting policies must be designed; opportunities must be afforded to citizens to react to policies before they are promulgated; systems of accountability must be established; forms of control must be instituted; and ample provision must be made to enable persons affected by decisions to review the bases on which they were made.

Values for human dignity are an attribute given to all members of a democratic society. Racial profiling is contrary to that principle. How officers treat people, especially minorities, is of utmost importance. The conduct of officers has great legal, social and moral implications.

Stopping or investigating individuals or groups based on race, religion or ethnicity is contrary to the principles of a democratic society and serves to polarize the police and minority communities. Demands of a democratic society dictate that the police do not discriminate against any person in the performance of their duties. It is essential that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department establish clear guidelines and directives prohibiting racial profiling. Additionally, applicants for deputy sheriff positions must be carefully screened and psychologically tested. Training must be devoted to address the moral, ethical and legal ramifications of racial profiling. Appropriate and objective reviews must be made when allegations of racial profiling are made.

Respect for the individual dignity of others is a value that every deputy sheriff must adhere to as he or she performs their duties. In a democratic society, especially under an established community policing program, deputies must be respectful of all communities and each individual in the community. It must never be forgotten that the sheriff’s department derives its powers from the community, all segments of the community and can expect to maintain it only as long as the community has positive regard for their exercise of it. For the department to diminish its capacity to regulate social behavior through persuasive, rather than proactive means. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department can only be effective if they have the admiration, esteem and respect of all segments of the community. In doing so, the difficult role of the department is far less difficult.