Bias-Based Profiling

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Criminal Profiling vs. Bias-Based Profiling:

The Critical Difference

How the North Port Police Department goes about identifying potential suspects in the commission of a crime is a crucial one, as it is for any organization that places a premium on the rights of the individual.

Based on their training, knowledge and experience, the officers of the North Port Police Department contact potential suspects based on their behavior and evidence that they have committed a crime, are engaged in criminal activity or are about to commit a crime. In pursuing criminal investigations, the North Port Police Department uses accepted, legitimate and necessary investigative tools, including criminal profiling.

Criminal profiling differs from and should not be confused with bias-based profiling. One is an investigative tool; the other, a discriminatory practice.

What is criminal profiling? Criminal profiling is a proven, effective way of speeding up an investigation. It involves scrutinizing facts and characteristics common to a specific kind of criminal activity, such as serial murder, or general criminal activity, such as drug trafficking. From these facts and characteristics, we may be able to identify a type of person, or group of people, upon which to focus our investigation. This can result in fewer suspects to consider and quicker resolution of the case.

While criminal profiling can involve factors such as gender, race or ethnicity, such factors are just a few among many that police must look at in order to identify a suspect.

Bias-based profiling, on the other hand, is a discriminatory practice that occurs when:

  1. An officer, whether intentionally or unintentionally, applies personal, societal or organizational biases or stereotypes to making decisions or taking police action; and
  2. A person’s race, ethnicity, background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, culture or other personal characteristic is the ONLY reason for that decision or action.

Discriminatory enforcement practices like bias-based profiling rob citizens of their Constitutionally-protected right to equal protection under the law. Furthermore, the practice of biased-based profiling alienates citizens, fosters distrust of the police, invites media scrutiny and can lead to serious legal consequences for any agency that tolerates it.

The North Port Police Department’s policy against biased-based profiling: It is the policy of the North Port Police Department to:

  • protect the constitutional rights of all people, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other belief system, physical handicap or characteristic; and
  • treat each person with respect and dignity.

The North Port Police Department will not accept or tolerate bias-based profiling.

The North Port Police Department is here to protect the community. Our law enforcement officers are required to use their skills in order to identify suspicious circumstances, unusual occurrences and violations of law, and to act accordingly. This proactive approach aids in the detection and apprehension of criminals, maintains the safety of our streets and highways, and protects our citizens and community from crime. As we perform our duties, we realize that it is imperative that we afford all citizens their legal rights.