Racial Profiling Policy

Racial profiling is defined as a law enforcement-initiated action based on an individual's race, ethnicity or national origin rather than on the individual's behavior or on information identifying the individual as having engaged in criminal activity. (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 3, Article 3.05.)

Houston Community College police officers are strictly prohibited from engaging in racial profiling as defined in this policy. The office of the Chief of Police will investigate all complaints of racial profiling in a timely manner. The complainant will receive in writing the finding and final disposition of their complaint. 

No person shall be discouraged, intimidated, coerced from filing a complaint or discriminated against because he or she filed such a complaint. If any person feels that they have been stopped or searched based on racial, ethnic or national origin profiling rather than their behavior, that person may file a complaint with the HCC police office at 713.718.755

Houston Community College Police Department

Racial Profiling Policy

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the enforcement of the traffic laws in a proactive manner within the dictates of the state and federal laws prohibiting racial profiling. This policy is intended to ensure all citizens are dealt with fairly and to protect HCC police officers from unwarranted accusations of misconduct when they act within the dictates of the law.

II. Policy

  1. Pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 2, Article 22.131, racial or ethnic profiling is strictly prohibited by officers of the HCC Police Department.
  2. This policy clarifies the circumstances in which officers may consider race and/or ethnicity when making law enforcement decisions. It reinforces procedures that serve to assure the public that we are providing service and enforcing laws in an equitable manner.
  3. Traffic stops, investigative detentions, arrests, searches and property seizures by officers shall be based on a standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause in accordance with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Officers must be able to articulate specific facts and circumstances that support reasonable suspicion or probable cause for traffic stops, investigative detentions, arrests, non-consensual searches and property seizures. Except as provided below, officers shall not consider race or ethnicity in establishing either reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Similarly, except as provided below, officers shall not consider race or ethnicity in deciding to initiate even those non-consensual encounters that do not amount to legal detentions or to request consent to search.
  4. Officers may take into account the reported race or ethnicity of a specific suspect or suspects based on trustworthy, locally relevant information that links a person or persons of a specific race/ethnicity to a particular unlawful incident(s). Race or ethnicity shall never be used as the sole basis for probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Specifically:
    1. Houston Community College Police Officers shall not use racial or ethnic stereotypes as factors in selecting who to stop and search; and
    2. Houston Community College Police Officers may use race or ethnicity to determine whether a person matches a specific description of a particular suspect.
  5. Houston Community College police supervisors shall ensure that all personnel under their supervision are familiar with the content of this directive and are operating in compliance with it.
  6. This policy shall not preclude officers from stopping a person to offer assistance, such as upon observing a substance leaking from the vehicle, a flat tire or someone who appears to be ill, lost or confused.
  7. HCC police vehicles are not equipped with video and audio equipment for the purpose of recording traffic stops. Should this equipment become available in the future, this directive will be revised to reflect the procedure for operation and review of video and audio documentation.
  8.  

III. Definitions

  1. Race or ethnicity. Means of a particular descent, including Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian or Native American descent.
  2. Racial profiling. A law enforcement-initiated action based on an individual's race, ethnicity or national origin rather than on the individual's behavior or on information identifying the individual as having engaged in criminal activity.
  3. Probable cause. (1) Probable cause to arrest exists where facts and circumstances within officers' knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed. It is not necessary that the officer possess knowledge of facts sufficient to establish guilt, but more than mere suspicion is required. (2) Reasonable grounds for belief that a person should be arrested or searched. (3) The evidentiary criteria necessary to sustain an arrest for the issuance of an arrest or search warrant. (4) Mere suspicion or beliefs, unsupported by facts or circumstances, is insufficient.
  4. Reasonable suspicion. (Definition from Black's Law Dictionary).The knowledge sufficient to induce an ordinary and prudent person to believe that criminal activity is at hand.The definition does not meet the standard of "probable cause."

IV. Procedures

  1. Traffic Stops
    1. Each time a motorist is stopped, the officer shall provide the following information by radio to the dispatcher, who will log the information on the radio log:
      1. License number of the vehicle stopped;
      2. The location of the stop;
      3. The number of occupants in the vehicle;
      4. A description of the person(s) or vehicle(s) being detained, including the race and ethnicity to the best of the officer's ability; and
      5. The reason for the stop.
    2. The appropriate enforcement action should always be completed, generally in the form of a warning, citation or arrest. The proper form must be filled out by the officer and shall include the gender and the race or ethnicity of the person stopped, if this information can reasonably be ascertained by physical appearance or from the driver's license or other documents provided by the individual(s).
    3. No motorist, once cited or warned, shall be detained beyond the point where there exists no probable cause of further criminal activity.
    4. No person or vehicle shall be searched in the absence of a warrant, a legally recognized exception to the warrant requirement, or the person's voluntary consent.In each case where a search is conducted, this information shall be recorded, including both the legal basis for the search and the results of the search.
    5. A "consent to search" form shall be used anytime that a person agrees to a search. If the individual indicates that they will consent to a search but refuses to sign the form, the officer will complete the form anyway and indicate "consented to search, but refused to sign," insert initials, and obtain the signature of any witness in the signature block.If consent is obtained and later withdrawn during the actual search, the officer shall cease conducting the search and follow procedural warrant requirements if necessary. 
    6. In the absence of a specific, credible report containing a physical description, a person's race, ethnicity, gender or any combination of these shall not be a factor in determining probable cause for an arrest or reasonable suspicion for a stop.
    7. The deliberate recording of any misleading information related to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity or gender of a person stopped for investigative or enforcement purposes is prohibited and a cause for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

  2. Required Collection of Data From Traffic Stops
    1. After the conclusion of any traffic stop, the officer conducting the stop shall complete a "traffic stop log" that shall be promptly submitted at the end of the shift to his or her immediate supervisor. The supervisor shall forward the form to communications for entry of the information into the database.
    2. Generally, the "traffic stop log" will be filled out only for the driver unless the passengers are also suspects.

  3. Complaints of Racial Profiling
    1. Any person may file a complaint with the department if he or she feels they have been stopped or searched based on racial, ethnic or gender-based profiling. No person shall be discouraged, intimidated or coerced from filing such a complaint or discriminated against because they have filed such a complaint.
    2. All complaints must be in writing, either through a letter to the department or in a police report.
    3. Any officer contacted by any person who wishes to file such a complaint or report shall provide the person with information on how to report the incident.This information will include the address and telephone number of the Houston Community College Police Department. The officer shall record the person's name, address and telephone number. The contact will be reported to the officer's supervisor as soon as possible.
    4. A supervisor receiving this information shall notify the chief of police.
    5. All such complaints shall be reviewed by the chief of police. The complaint shall be acknowledged to the complainant in writing and on departmental letterhead. The complainant shall be informed of the results of the department's review within a reasonable period of time.
    6. The report and the reviewer's conclusion shall be filed with the chief of police, along with the findings and any suggestions for disciplinary action or changes in policy, training or tactics.
    7. The command staff will review complaints of racial profiling on an annual basis, at a minimum, or as required.
    8. No later than March 1 of each year, the department shall make a statistical summary of all profiling complaints for the previous year (January 1 through December 31), including the findings as to whether the complaints were sustained, not sustained or exonerated. This report shall be presented to the command staff for their review and input no later than February 1 of the respective year.
    9. Supervisors shall take appropriate action whenever it appears that this policy is being violated, being particularly alert to any pattern or practice of possible discriminatory treatment by individual officers.

  4. Public Notice
    Public education regarding the complaint process shall be provided during crime prevention activities and posted on the Police Department's website. Policy describing the complaint process will be made available for public distribution.

  5. Compilation of Reports
    1. The chief of police shall ensure that required reports are completed and forwarded, as necessary and in a timely manner in accordance with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 2, Article 2.134, titled "Compilation and Analysis of Information Collected."
    2. Information that is required for the report consists of the following information:
      1. The minimum requirements for "tier one" data for traffic stops in which a citation results are:
        1. The race or ethnicity of individual detained (race and ethnicity defined as a particular descent, including Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian or Native American).
        2. Whether a search was conducted and if there was a search.
        3. Whether it was a consent search or a probable cause search.
        4. Whether there was a custody arrest. 
      2. The minimum requirements for reporting on "tier two" reports include traffic and pedestrian stops. Tier two data include:
        1. The detained person's gender and race or ethnicity.
        2. The type of law violation suspect (e.g., hazardous traffic, non- hazardous traffic or other criminal investigation –— the Texas Department of Public Safety publishes a categorization of traffic offenses into hazardous or non-hazardous).
        3. Whether a search was conducted, and if so whether it was based on consent or probable cause.
        4. Facts supporting probable cause.
        5. The type, if any, or contraband that was collected.
        6. Disposition of the stop (e.g., arrest, ticket, warning or release).
        7. Location of stop.
        8. Statement of the charge (e.g., arrest, ticket, warning or traffic).
        9. The plea, the judgment and whether bail was forfeited.
        10. The date of the conviction, if any.
        11. The amount of fine or forfeiture, if any.
    3. Information that would identify the officer who made a traffic stop or that would identify an individual that has been stopped or arrested shall not be included in reports required by this directive.
    4. Officers shall receive initial and ongoing training in pro-active enforcement tactics, including training in officer safety, courtesy, cultural diversity, laws governing search and seizure, and interpersonal communications skills. This training shall be conducted in accordance with the Texas Occupations Code Sections 1701.253, subsection (e) and 1701.402 subsection (d).
    5. Any officer who has been the subject of a racial or ethnic profiling complaint and has been shown to have engaged in racial profiling shall be counseled and/or disciplined in accordance with Board policy.
    6. All aspects of this policy shall be complied with. Violations of this policy shall result in disciplinary action.
    7. Questions or concerns should be addressed to your supervisor or the chief of police.

Houston Community College Police Department
Racial Profiling Complaint Process and Public Education

Any person who believes that a police officer employed by this department has engaged in racial profiling with respect to that person may file a complaint with the Houston Community College chief of police and no person shall be discouraged, intimidated or coerced from filing such a complaint or be discriminated against because they have filed such a complaint.

Once a complaint alleging racial profiling is received, it will be thoroughly investigated by a person designated by the chief of police.Such complaints shall be in writing and should contain the name of the complainant, address and a contact telephone number. The complaint should include the time, location and details of the alleged racial profiling and include the identity or description of the police officer or officers involved.

Any employee of the Houston Community College Police Department who receives a citizen complaint alleging racial profiling shall forward the complaint to their supervisor or the chief of police immediately. Employees shall provide the complainant the necessary complaint forms. The chief of police shall acknowledge receipt of each complaint to the complainant in writing.

All complaints shall be reviewed and investigated in a timely manner and the disposition of the investigation shall be forwarded to the chief of police, along with the findings and any suggestions for disciplinary action or changes in policy, training or tactics. The chief of police shall inform the complainant in writing of the results of the investigation.

In the event that a complaint of racial profiling filed by an individual involves an occurrence that was recorded on audio or video, the investigating officer shall upon commencement of the investigation of the complaint and with a written request of the officer, promptly provide a copy of the recording to the police officer that is subject of the complaint.

The Houston Community College Police Department will provide education to the public regarding racial profiling and the complaint process through its crime prevention seminars, organizational/campus meetings, pamphlets and on the Police Department's website.

Racial Profiling Brochures

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