The issue of racial profiling is one of the more disturbing and controversial issues to confront law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve in recent memory. While virtually all the evidence to date is anecdotal, there exists to some degree the perception that law enforcement officers enforce traffic laws based on the ethnicity of the driver. This is a troubling development and one which causes concern to anyone charged with the enforcement of state’s laws. Simply stated, local and county law enforcement agencies cannot perform their responsibilities without the trust and support of all segments of the communities they serve.
It is the responsibility of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement, and related services to the public. In accomplishing this, deputies must be observant, identify unusual occurrences and law violations using reasonable suspicion, and act upon them. It is this proactive enforcement that keeps our citizens, our streets and highways safer. It further enables us in detecting and apprehending criminals.
All laws shall be enforced equally, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, physical handicap or religion and bias based profiling shall not be tolerated in enforcement efforts. This standard is established in accordance with Florida State Statue 30.15.
“On or before January 1, 2002 every sheriff shall incorporate an antiracial or other anti-discriminatory profiling policy into the sheriff’s policies and practices, utilizing the Florida Police Chiefs Association Model Policy as a guide. Anti-profiling policies shall include the elements of definitions, traffic stop procedures, community education and awareness efforts, and policies for the handling of complaints from the public.”
Bias-based profiling issues, including legal aspects, are provided to sworn members of the agency during in-service training and in accordance with the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) requirements. Numerous policies incorporate the prohibition of bias-based profiling and members are responsible for ensuring all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect.
If you have any questions, or would like more information regarding the Polk County Sheriff’s Office policies prohibiting bias-based profiling, please contact the Public Information Office at 298-6631 or 298-6217. You will be directed to the District Command Office providing services in your area.