Standard Operating Procedures
CFA 2.08, 26.01, 26.01(a)

DATE: 06/24/2002

DATED: 05/15/00, 08/01/01

The purpose of this policy is to unequivocally state that racial and ethnic profiling in law enforcement are totally unacceptable. This policy also provides guidelines for members of the Florida International University Police Department to prevent such occurrences, and to protect our members when they act within the dictates of the law and policy from unwarranted accusations. CFA 2.08 A

A fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States to all who live in this nation is the equal protection under the law. Along with this right to equal protection is the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. Citizens are free to walk and drive our streets, highways, and other public places without police interference so long as they obey the law. They also are entitled to be free from crime, and from the depredations of criminals, and to drive and walk our public ways safe from the actions of reckless and careless drivers.

The Florida International University Police Department is charged with protecting these rights, for all, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, physical handicap, religion or other belief system. Because of the nature of law enforcement, officers are required to be observant to unusual occurrences and law violations, and to act upon them. It is this proactive enforcement that keeps our citizens free from crime, our streets and highways safe to drive upon, and that detects and apprehends criminals.

This policy is intended to assist members of this Department in accomplishing the total mission in a way that respects the dignity of all persons and yet send a strong deterrent message to actual and potential lawbreakers that if they break the law, they are likely to encounter the police.

It is the policy of the Florida International University Police Department to patrol in a proactive manner. To investigate suspicious persons and circumstances, and to enforce University policies, federal and state laws, while insisting that citizens will only be stopped or detained when there exists reasonable suspicion to believe they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit, an infraction of the law. All contacts with the public will be done with integrity, fairness, and honesty.

Profiling: The detention, interdiction, targeting, or other disparate treatment of any person based solely on racial, ethnic status or characteristics, age, gender, economic status or sexual orientation.

Reasonable suspicion: Also known as articulable suspicion. Suspicion that is more than a mere hunch, but is based on a set of articulable facts and circumstances that would warrant a person of reasonable caution in believing that an infraction of the law has been committed, is about to be committed, or is in the process of being committed, by the person or persons under suspicion. This can be based on the observations of a police officer combined with his or her training and experience, and/or reliable information received from credible outside sources. CFA 2.08 D

The FIU Police Department’s efforts will be directed toward assigning officers to those areas where crimes and vehicle crashes may be reduced or prevented through proactive patrol. Officers will receive initial and ongoing training in proactive enforcement tactics, community education and awareness efforts, including training in officer safety, courtesy, cultural diversity, the laws governing search and seizure, and interpersonal communication skills. Training programs will emphasize the need to respect the rights of all citizens to be free from unreasonable government intrusion or police action. Traffic enforcement will be accompanied by consistent supervisory oversight to ensure that officers do not go beyond the parameters of reasonableness in conducting such activities. CFA 2.08 E,F Motorists and pedestrians will only be subjected to stops, seizures or detentions upon reasonable suspicion that they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit an infraction. Each time a motorist is stopped, the officer will notify the dispatcher by radio the location of the stop, the description of the person or vehicle being detained, and the statute number or violation, or other reason for the stop, and this information shall be logged. The Department recognizes that with experience, individual officers may develop individualized approaches that they find work best for them in minimizing conflict during officer/violator contacts. Given some better approach, the following is recommended, in the order specified below:

  1. Give a greeting, such as “Good morning, ma’am”, “Good evening, sir”, etc.
  2. Identify yourself. Ex: “I am Officer Smith, of the FIU Police Department”.
  3. State the reason why the person is being stopped or detained. Ex: “I stopped you because I saw your vehicle come through the stop sign at that last intersection without coming to a complete stop.” (Describing the actions of the vehicle rather than personalizing the action to the driver tends to reduce tension.)
  4. It may defuse tension to ask a motorist if there was some reason for the violation. This gives them the opportunity to “have their say”, often leads to an admission that the violator realized they were in violation, and precludes a defendant from offering a different excuse at trial. If you choose not to ask but the motorist wishes to give a reason or excuse, listen politely and give them ample opportunity to tell their story.
  5. Politely ask for identification and any required documents. Ex: “May I please see your license, registration, and proof of insurance”?
  6. After completing any necessary paperwork, inform the driver or pedestrian as to what action is being taken and what, if any, the person must do as a result, such as how to pay any fine involved, obtain a traffic court hearing, etc.
  7. Give an appropriate closing. For example, if the motorist was cooperative, “Thank you for your cooperation” may be in order. Do not use the trite expression, “Have a nice day”, which would be inappropriate in these circumstances. “Please drive carefully, your safety is important to us” is more appropriate.
  8. Make sure the driver is able to merge safely back into the traffic stream. Appropriate enforcement action should always be completed generally in the form of a warning, citation or arrest. The proper form/s must be filled out by the officer and shall include the gender, 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. No motorist, once cited or warned, shall be detained beyond the point where there exists no reasonable suspicion of further criminal activity, and 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 the legal basis for the search, and the results thereof. Consent searches will only be conducted with written consent, using the proper Department form. If the individual indicates that they will consent to a search but are refusing to sign the form, fill out the form anyway and indicate “consented to search but refused to sign”, inserting initials and the signature of any witness in the signature block.
  9. In the absence of a specific, credible report containing a physical description, a person’s race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation or any combination of these will not be a factor in determining probable cause for an arrest or reasonable suspicion for a stop. The deliberate recording of any misleading information related to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation of a person stopped for investigative or enforcement purposes is prohibited and a cause for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. CFA 2.08 C
  10. Members of the Department will not investigate or collect intelligence information against any individual and/or group based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, economic status or sexual orientation. CFA 26.01, 26.01 A
  11. When conducting field interviews, race, ethnicity, age, gender, economic status or sexual orientation of an individual or individuals will not be a factor used by department personnel.
  12. When conducting preliminary investigations, race, ethnicity, age, gender, economic status or sexual orientation of an individual or group will not be used in effecting an arrest.
  13. When conducting follow-up investigations, planning, organizing, and conducting searches will not be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, economic status or sexual orientation.

Any person may file a complaint with the Department if they feel they have been stopped or searched based on racial, ethnic, age, economic status, gender or gender-based profiling, and no person shall be discouraged, intimidated, or coerced from filing such a complaint, or discriminated against because they have filed such a complaint. Any officer contacted by a person who wishes to file such a complaint, will provide the citizen with a copy of a citizen complaint form which may be mailed or delivered in person to headquarters, and will record the person’s name, address, and telephone number, and report the contact to the officer’s supervisor prior to the end of the shift. Supervisors receiving such a report will forward it to the Director. Complaints shall be reviewed and the complaint acknowledged to the complainant in writing. The complainant will be informed of the results of the Department’s review within a reasonable period of time. The report and the reviewer’s conclusion will be forwarded to the Director, and will contain findings and any suggestions for disciplinary action or changes in policy, training, or tactics. CFA 2.08 C

Supervisors shall review profiling complaints periodically and respond at random to back up officers on vehicle stops, and will take appropriate action whenever it appears this policy is being violated. Supervisors will be particularly alert to any pattern or practice of possible discriminatory treatment by Department personnel. On an annual basis, the Department will make public a statistical summary of all profiling complaints for the year, including the findings as to whether they were sustained, not sustained, exonerated or unfounded. CFA 2.08 G

In addition to this directive, the Department has in place other rules and regulations which prohibit inappropriate conduct which could be interpreted or perceived as “Profiling”. These rules, regulations, policies and procedures are found throughout the Department’s manual in response to the wide range of activities the Department regulates. Department personnel will continue to follow all prohibitions currently found in the Department’s Standard Operating Manual against any kind of inappropriate conduct against any individual or group. CFA 2.08 B