US issues new guidelines for racial profiling

8 December 2014 (Last Updated December 8th, 2014 18:30)

The newly announced guidelines on racial profiling by the Obama administration in the US have exempted agents deployed at airports and border after a series of incidents involving white police officers killing black suspects.

The newly announced guidelines on racial profiling by the Obama administration in the US have exempted agents deployed at airports and border after a series of incidents involving white police officers killing black suspects.

These new guidelines on racial profiling will pertain to federal law enforcement and not to local police departments.

The US has issued the new guidelines following the recent deaths of three African Americans at the hands of police in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland, and the absence of criminal charges against the white police officers who were involved.

"With this new guidance, we take a major and important step forward to ensure effective policing."

US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: "With this new guidance, we take a major and important step forward to ensure effective policing by federal law enforcement officials, as well as state and local law enforcement participating in federal task forces throughout the nation. This guidance is the product of five years of scrupulous review.

"It codifies important new protections for those who come into contact with federal law enforcement agents and their partners. And it brings enhanced training, oversight, and accountability to federal law enforcement across the country, so that isolated acts do not tarnish the exemplary work that's performed by the overwhelming majority of America's hard-working law enforcement officials each and every day."

According to the new guidelines, during making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, officers may not use race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity to any degree, unless listed characteristics apply to a suspect description.

Under the policy, federal law enforcement officers will be prohibited from acting on the belief that possession of a listed characteristic by itself signals a higher risk of criminality.

The new guidelines will apply to federal law enforcement agents but won't be binding on local police departments whose officers are more likely to have day-to-day contact with community members.