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Bias Based Profiling Information

The Florida Highway Patrols stance on Bias Based Profiling

January 14, 2016: Memorandum on Profiling to All Sworn Personnel from Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, FHP Director

Florida Highway Patrol’s Perspective on Profiling

The value and worth of a law enforcement agency is determined by the people it serves. If the public perceives that officers are not fair in administering their duties, they will become suspicious and distrustful of law enforcement in general. This feeling will undoubtedly lead to deteriorating relationships. Therefore, it is necessary that the law enforcement community work diligently to foster relationships based on trust with the people it serves.

The Florida Highway Patrol has a well-known reputation of treating the citizens it serves in a fair and unbiased manner. We do not condone profiling – it discriminates against individuals based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, or income status.

Identification of the Problem

The practice of unlawful profiling is based on stereotypical characteristics of persons or groups that some officers believe have a propensity to engage in criminal activity. Profiling has been identified as the stopping of motorists, the detention of a person, and/or the searching of a vehicle based solely on the individual’s:

  • Race
  • Ethnic origin
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income status

Profiling is illegal and inconsistent with the principles of American policing. It is an indefensible public protection strategy that is not a legitimate law enforcement practice.

Florida Highway Patrol Prohibits Profiling

  • The Florida Highway Patrol does not use or condone profiling.
  • In the selection process of the Florida Highway Patrol, every step of the application process has built-in cues to help detect those individuals with attitudes and beliefs that would predispose them to act out tendencies of discrimination. Cognitive skills testing, psychological screening, polygraph examination, and a thorough background investigation are included in the process.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol has an active citizen complaint process that encourages people to notify supervision of any dissatisfaction.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol affords accessibility by individuals to the patrol through its website. This fosters a mechanism for positive communication between the patrol and the public.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol maintains an aggressive attitude toward members violating rules or policies especially as it pertains to the treatment of citizens.
  • Members of the Florida Highway Patrol are instructed to look beyond the traffic stop for indicators of criminal activity. Those indicators do not include the use of profiling.
  • The policy and practice of the Florida Highway Patrol is well known to other law enforcement agencies.

Analysis of the Data

Historically, information on the Uniform Traffic Citation has been the only reliable demographic data available related to traffic stops. This limited any analysis to stops resulting in a citation being issued. It also is limited by the possibility that multiple citations may be issued for a single traffic stop. To address this problem, FHP started to collect data on every discretionary traffic stop conducted by a trooper on January 1, 2000. Discretionary stops do not include stops which result from a call for service, such as responding to a traffic crash or providing assistance to a motorist with a disabled vehicle. The data reported include date and time, county, race, ethnicity, age, gender, number of passengers, reason for the stop, enforcement action taken, what type of search was made (if any), and any contraband found or property seized for forfeiture. The information is entered into a computer database maintained at FHP general headquarters in Tallahassee.

A preliminary analysis, based on the citation data, was conducted by the Florida Highway Patrol in 1999. That study determined that the demographic make-up of drivers issued citations closely matched that of the population of the county in which the stops were made. Data collected since January 1, 2000, indicate that this is true of all stops as well. The race, ethnicity, and gender of drivers stopped is basically the same as the general population at both the state and county level.

The Florida Highway Patrols policies regarding Bias Based Profiling

If you feel you have been a victim of Bias Based Profiling and would like to file a complaint, select this link.