In an effort to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh on Aug. 25 unveiled new guidance designed to end discriminatory profiling by law enforcement in Maryland, broadening the characteristics that may not be used to single out groups during everyday police activity.
Under a guidance memorandum issued by the Office of the Attorney General, officers in any law enforcement agency in Maryland may not consider race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity to any degree during routine police operations.
“Police do a dangerous, difficult job, and they do it well,” Frosh said in a statement announcing the guidance. “But experience shows us that improper profiling by police does terrible damage. It discourage[s] cooperation by law-abiding citizens, it generates bogus leads that turn attention away from bona fide criminal conduct, and it erodes community trust.”
Baltimore’s LGBT community, especially the transgender community, has had a history of difficult interactions with the Baltimore Police Department because of profiling.
“This is an important step forward, and the standards in this guidance are ones that all law enforcement should follow, including the Baltimore Police Department,” said Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in the statement. “I’m committed to making sure that the standards being released today are part of our practices — for the benefit of our officers and our community.”
Local LGBT community leaders applauded the attorney general’s memorandum.
“This guidance is an important step in addressing the discriminatory profiling based on race and other characteristics that harms communities and erodes trust between law enforcement and the public,” said Keith Thirion, acting executive director of Equality Maryland.
“Communities of color, including LGBT people of color, have been disproportionately impacted by this dangerous practice,” he said. “Too often transgender women, and particularly transgender women of color, are targeted and assumed to be engaged in sex work or criminal activity just for walking down the street, often called ‘walking while trans.’”