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June 9, 1999

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Wednesday, June 9, 1999

As a society, we do not have to choose between keeping people safe and treating them right, between enforcing the law and upholding civil rights. We can do both.

President Bill Clinton
June 9, 1999

Today, in Washington, D.C., President Clinton chaired a roundtable discussion with leaders from civil rights and law enforcement organizations on ways to build trust between police and the communities they serve. To address the issue of racial profiling, the President directed federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting and reporting data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of the individuals they stop and search. The President also called on Congress to pass legislation to promote data collection and reporting by state and local law enforcement agencies.

Getting the Facts on Racial Profiling. Racial profiling, the practice of law enforcement officers stopping or searching individuals on the basis of race, is not consistent with our nation's commitment to equal justice under the law. As a necessary step to combat this problem, facts needs to be obtained about when and where it occurs. Today, the President directed the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Interior to:

  • begin collecting data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to traffic and pedestrian stops, inspections at entries into the U.S., and certain other searches by federal law enforcement agencies including the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs Service, and National Park Service; and
  • after one year, report on the findings of the new data collection system and make recommendations based on those findings on how to ensure greater fairness in federal law enforcement procedures.

Helping States and Localities. The President announced his support for legislation introduced by Representative John Conyers to establish a new federal grant program that would assist state and local law enforcement agencies to implement similar data collection systems. This legislation also would authorize the Attorney General to develop a nationwide sample, and issue a report on the number and nature of traffic stops conducted by state and local law enforcement officers throughout the country.

Surveying the American Public. This year, the Justice Department will amend its National Crime Victimization Survey and begin asking Americans about their experiences with traffic stops, police use of force, and police misconduct. This new information will help measure our success in building trust and improving relations between law enforcement and the community.

Enhancing Our Commitment to Community Policing. The 21st Century Policing Initiative contained in the President's crime bill contains several measures to help strengthen the integrity and ethics of police forces in communities across the country, including:

  • $20 million to expand police integrity and ethics training;
  • $20 million for police scholarships to promote the best educated police force possible;
  • $2 million for improved minority recruitment to ensure that police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they represent;
  • $10 million to help police departments purchase more video cameras to protect both the safety of officers and the rights of the individuals they stop; and
  • $5 million to establish citizen police academies to engage community residents in the fight against crime.



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