Biased Based Profiling

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
DIRECTIVE TYPE: Policy SUBJECT: Biased Based Profiling NUMBER: OPER-300.01
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 9/13/2015
NMLEA STANDARDS: OPR.01.10 LAST MODIFIED: 5/17/2017 LAST REVIEW: 5/16/2017


PURPOSE:


The purpose of this policy is to establish written guidelines designed to prevent and/or eliminate practices by deputies that amount to biased based profiling.


POLICY:


It is the policy of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services in a fair, equitable, and constitutional manner. Decisions made by deputies are based on the specific conduct and behavior of a person and not on their physical attributes or other characteristic. The Sheriff’s Office does not tolerate nor condone biased based profiling by deputies and demands compliance with the New Mexico “Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act”: Sections 29-21-2 to 29-21-3 NMSA 1978.


DEFINITIONS:


The following definitions will apply for the purposes of this policy:


  • Biased Based Profiling - The selection of an individual based solely on a common trait of a group while making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions; or a law enforcement officer’s intentional failure to act based solely on the victim’s characteristics. This includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic/socio-economic status, age, cultural group, or any other identifiable group.


  • Deputy – All sworn Sheriff’s Office personnel regardless of rank as well as reserve deputies while acting in their official capacity for the Sheriff’s Office.


  • Investigatory Activity – Law enforcement activity including, but not limited to, interviewing, detentions, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, frisks or other types of bodily searches or searches of real or personal property, and asset seizure and forfeiture efforts.


PROCEDURE:


PROHIBITIONS (OPR.01.10 (A))


When conducting routine or spontaneous investigatory activity, or in determining the scope, substance, or duration of the investigatory activity, deputies will not rely on race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, physical or mental disability, or a serious medical condition. An exception exists when the deputy has a specific suspect description related to real or suspected criminal activity and selects a person for, or subjects a person to, the investigatory activity based on that specific description.


When conducting investigatory activity in connection with an investigation, a deputy will not rely on race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, physical or mental disability, or a serious medical condition, except to the extent that reasonably credible information, relevant to the locality or time frame, links a person with those identifying characteristics to an identified criminal incident or reported criminal activity.


INVESTIGATIONS


All contacts above a consensual encounter will be based on individualized and particularized circumstances supported by specific facts or information that can be articulated through the required and applicable standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause for investigative detentions, traffic stops, personal and property searches, arrests, and others. All prolonged or expanded detentions will be based on this same standard as the scope of the investigation broadens.


Deputies may take into account the reported race, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, or other characteristics of a specific suspect or involved party based on reasonably credible and locally-relevant information that links a person or specific group to a particular criminal incident or links a specific series of crimes in an area to a group of individuals of a particular racial or ethnic background, or other specific characteristics.


Oftentimes incidents are mistakenly perceived as biased based profiling when in fact, the issue at hand revolves around search and seizure issues to include detentions, scope, probable cause, and reasonable suspicion. Due to this, all deputies should be familiar with search and seizure rules and laws and should maintain a working knowledge of the Sheriff’s Office Search and Seizure Policy.


COMPLAINTS, PROCESS, & CORRECTIVE MEASURES (OPR.01.10 (C))


The Sheriff’s Office will investigate all complaints alleging violations of this policy and will resolve sustained complaints pursuant to the Sheriff’s Office Disciplinary Procedures Policy.


The Sheriff’s Office will accept, process, and respond to complaints pursuant to the Complaint Policy. The time frame for a complaint to be made should not exceed 180 days after the commission of the alleged violation; however, the Sheriff’s Office will accept all biased based profiling complaints indefinitely. It is recommended the complaint be made as soon as possible after the commission of the alleged violation. 


The Sheriff’s Office will accept and investigate any biased based profiling complaint, regardless of who or how the complaint is made, provided that the complaint is determined to be valid before taking appropriate measures.


Although an official complaint form is not required to file a complaint, its use is preferred. If desired, complaint forms are made available in our most common languages, English, Navajo, and Spanish via the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office website as well as hardcopy format upon request.


As is best investigative practice, it is strongly recommended all individuals making complaints be personally contacted and interviewed if and when possible. When a language barrier is present, or a complaint form is submitted in a foreign language, the Sheriff’s Office may choose to utilize a known and reliable interpreter to ensure complete comprehension of the complaint allegations.


Supervisors will be responsible for recognizing violations, knowing policy, forwarding complaints, and aiding in any remedial action imposed against employees who have had a sustained complaint.


All biased based profiling complaints, once completed, will be forwarded to the Administrative Captain. A redacted copy of the complaint will then be sent to the Attorney General’s Office for review via certified mail. This copy will contain the nature of the complaint and associated disposition but will not disclose any personal identifying information of the deputy or complainant.


ADMINISTRATIVE:


TRAINING (OPR.01.10 (B))


All deputies will receive specific biennial training relevant to biased based profiling which includes a review of this policy, state laws, and search and seizure laws, including but not limited to scope, detention, probable cause, and reasonable suspicion. All newly hired San Juan County deputies will receive the same training prior to beginning the field training program.


PUBLICATION


Pursuant to the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act, the most current version of this policy will be published for public access on the Sheriff’s Office website and made available upon request in hardcopy format.


ANNUAL ANALYSIS (OPR.01.10 (D))


The Administrative Captain is responsible for conducting or assigning an analysis of all internally maintained and relevant data for the purpose of identifying any practices that amount to biased based profiling and to address any issues with training and discipline as warranted. The Sheriff’s Office early intervention system will also be utilized as a resource in identifying any patterns and/or practices that violate this policy.


CROSS REFERENCES:


  1. Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act [29-21-2 to 29-21-3 NMSA 1978]
  2. SJCSO Policy PERS-500 “Disciplinary Procedures”
  3. SJCSO Policy ADMN-106 “Complaint Policy”
  4. SJCSO Policy OPER-302 “Search and Seizure”