1-6 Bias Reduction
Policy Type: Local
Approved By: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department
Initial Policy Approved: 5/14/2013
Current Revision Approved: 1/1/2022
The VCU Police Department is committed to respecting constitutional rights in the performance of employees’ duties. The department’s success is based on the respect its employees show to the community and the respect citizens observe toward law enforcement. To this end, employees shall exercise duties, responsibilities, and obligations in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, and economic status. In law enforcement, the failure to control biases can lead to illegal arrests, searches and detentions, thus thwarting the mission of the department. Most importantly, actions guided by bias destroy the trust and respect essential for success.
In all enforcement decisions, officers shall be able to articulate specific facts, circumstances, and conclusions, which support probable cause or reasonable suspicion for arrests, searches, seizures and stops of citizens. Officers shall not stop, detain, arrest, search, or attempt to search anyone based solely upon the person's race, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, and economic status.
All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any violations of policy are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated. Employees that are aware of any violation(s) of this policy have a mandatory duty to report such violation(s) directly to the office of the Chief of Police. Failure to report any known violations will result in disciplinary action.
- BIAS - Prejudice or partiality, which may be based on preconceived ideas, a person's upbringing, culture, experience, or education.
- BIAS-BASED POLICING/PROFILING - The selection of individual(s) based solely on a trait common to a group for any enforcement action. This includes, but is not limited to, perceived race, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, and/or socio-economic status.
- PROBABLE CAUSE – According to the U.S. Supreme Court: Probable Cause exists when the facts and circumstances within [the arresting officers’] knowledge and of which the officer had reasonable trustworthy information of, are sufficient in themselves to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been or is being committed by the suspect.
- PROFILE - A legitimate profile, sanctioned by the Department, is a very specific attribute, or cluster of attributes or characteristics, and form the basis for reasonable suspicion of criminality. A profile is only valid for a limited time and under limited circumstances. These attributes or characteristics are established in writing based on considerable training and experience. A legitimate profile will not be based solely on a person's race, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, economic status, or any other identifiable group.
- REASONABLE SUSPICION - Articulable facts which lead an experienced officer to reasonably suspect that a crime has been or is about to be committed. A well-founded suspicion is based on the totality of the circumstances and does not exist unless it can be articulated. Reasonable suspicion supports a stop of a citizen. Courts require that stops based on reasonable suspicion be "objectively reasonable."
- Officers are strictly prohibited from engaging in bias-based policing/profiling. All complaints of bias-based policing/profiling shall be thoroughly investigated following complaint procedures set forth in Written Directive 4-9 Internal Affairs.
- Officers who engage in bias-based policing/profiling shall be subject to disciplinary sanctions pursuant to Written Directives 1-1 Code of Conduct and 4-11 Disciplinary Procedures, up to and including termination/dismissal. Officers may also be subject to remedial training.
- The Training Division shall ensure that training addressing bias-based policing/profiling (including legal aspects) particularly in the context of field contacts, traffic stops/contacts, searches and asset seizure/forfeiture, cultural diversity, courtesy and interpersonal communications skills shall be conducted for sworn employees as a part of their required initial and in-service training, and an annual refresher course must be completed in PowerDMS. Additional diversity and sensitivity training may be designated for employees with substantiated bias-based policing/profiling or other substantiated discrimination complaints against them or when otherwise deemed necessary.
- The Compliance Manager shall ensure that an annual review of the department’s practices concerning bias-based policing/profiling is completed no later than March 15th each year and submitted to the Chief of Police. At a minimum, this review shall include:
- An analysis of citizen complaints and comments/concerns that have been received during the year regarding bias-based policing/profiling, and
- Recommendations, if any, for changes to policies, procedures, practices or training.
This policy supersedes the following archived policies:
5/14/2013 - 1-6 Bias Reduction
3/1/2017 - 1-6 Bias Reduction