GUIDANCE FOR FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES REGARDING THE USE OF RACE, ETHNICITY, GENDER, NATIONAL ORIGIN, RELIGION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR GENDER IDENTITY

The past day the U.S. Department of Justice released an outline for a new ‘use of race’ policy for the police force. It “builds upon and expands the framework of the 2003 Guidance and aims to dissolve “biased practices. Which promote mistrust of law enforcement, and perpetuate negative and harmful stereotypes”.

http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ag/pages/attachments/2014/12/08/use-of-race-policy.pdf

I suppose the question I’ve come to ask myself as time transpires and more of these cases reach the public eye and not just the local sphere is ‘quis custodient ipsos custodes'(Satires VI, lines 347-8). Which translates to who watches the watchmen? Even Plato pondered on what it means and how to have a powerful force held in account for their actions. For the longest of time, society has, generally, regarded the police as the moral good. Even if their actions are questionable, we assume they are acting under the moral good, and therefore their actions are forgivable. But what happens when the actions are unforgivable and the moral good is made hazy from internalized racism and biased practices? Who do we have in this day and age to hold the police accountable for their actions? Who holds sovereignty over these watchmen? Do you think that something like this document and policy can make a drastic change in how police handle stops and activities?

 

There are two parts of this document which bother me, as they seem to do the very thing the document is attempting to shun. Under discussion A, there is a section where crime rates are discussed. The diction actually harms their argument, if there is no conclusive evidence that “certain crime rates among certain groups” exist, then using the argument of ‘some’ biases and skews whatever neutral stance the wish to partake in. That portion sounded like they were trying to justify the use of ‘profiling’ based on inconclusive ‘statistical evidence’ that have long been argued because of overall discrepancies. Am I the only one to feel that way about that portion?

 

Finally, the portion where they state they may “use a listed characteristic in connection with source recruitment” such as in the case of a terrorist organization. Let’s not beat around the bush, the characteristic they are referring to is race/skin color and in most cases, they are looking for brown people. Do you believe that these policies truly change anything within the system, or are they temporary band-aids to quell the situation and appease people who ask for ‘change’?

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