As Federal Police Misconduct Summit Opens, ACLU Offers Reno 10 Recommendations

June 9, 1999 12:00 am

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Wednesday, June 9, 1999

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today called on Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department to take 10 concrete steps to begin to forcefully confront the issue of police misconduct.

The ACLU’s recommendations were outlined in a letter sent to Reno late last week. The letter was released to the public today at the start of a two-day Justice Department conference on “Police Integrity/Trust Building.”

“As the Attorney General has recognized, the nation needs decisive action to stop police misconduct,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office. “Discussion and dialogue are important. But if we hope to finally have a meaningful and lasting impact on the issue of police misconduct, the talk must be followed by specific actions.”

The ACLU recommendations were focused in three areas — racial profiling, funding and police training. They include:

  • Requiring agencies that receive federal funding for highway drug interdiction to agree to collect and report comprehensive race data on who they stop and who they search. The ACLU also recommends that the agencies be required to agree to implement mandatory measures designed to prevent, identify and remedy abusive practices and violations of the Fourth Amendment.
  • Providing at least $5 million in new funding for the police accountability efforts of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The ACLU also calls for full funding to fulfill the Justice Department’s obligation to collect and report comprehensive data on the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers and for at least $5 million to fund improved recruitment efforts of minority and female officers.
  • Taking a leadership role in developing and supporting effective programs aimed at confronting the “code of silence,” the tendency for police to protect their own, even in the most egregious of circumstances. The ACLU said that the Justice Department should also work to provide “whistle blower” protection for police officers who report internal racial and sexual harassment concerns.

Just last week, the ACLU issued a new report on the problem of racial profiling. The report — Driving While Black: Racial Profiling On Our Nation’s Highways — cited statistics gathered by the ACLU in the course of legal challenges in several states and media stories from around the nation in making the case that skin color is being used as a substitute for evidence and a ground for suspicion.

“There is absolutely no excuse for mere talk,” Murphy said. “Victims of police misconduct are crying out for justice. The Attorney General must act.”

The ACLU’s Letter to Reno can be found at:

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