Bias-Based Profiling

Bias-based policing is the use of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture as the sole basis for police activity.  It is commonly known as racial profiling. This type of policing is not a legitimate law enforcement technique. In fact, it is against departmental policy for Wildwood Police Officers to practice bias-based policing. The department is committed to the fair and equal treatment of every member of the public.

It is the policy of the Wildwood Police Department to patrol in a proactive manner, to investigate suspicious persons and/or circumstances, and to enforce motor vehicle laws. We are here to protect the community. Law enforcement officers are required to use skills developed through observation, training, and experience in order to identify suspicious circumstances, unusual occurrences, and violations of law, and to act according to the situation. Therefore, officers focus on a person’s conduct or other specific suspect information, and will have reasonable suspicion that the person contacted has been, is, or is about to commit a violation of the law.

The absence of facts, suspicious activity, or specific criminal information is what separates bias-based policing from legitimate criminal profiling.

What Can Officers Legally Do?

Officers can detain and engage any member of the public for investigative purposes when:

  • There is reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a person may have been involved in or have knowledge of a crime.
  • Suspicious activity is observed.
  • There is criminal information (such as a suspect or vehicle description) that must be acted upon.

A police officer can, and frequently does, engage any member of the public to:

  • Inquire about possible criminal activites in the area.
  • Speak with a witness who is not suspected of a crime.
  • Educate people on ways to avoid or deter crime.
  • Render assistance in situations not involving suspected criminal activity (for example, a medical emergency).

As part of building good relationships with the public, officers routinely engage in conversations with residents. In these kinds of situations, you are always free to decline or end any conversation with an officer and walk away. If you think your encounter with the police was bias-based, remain calm and ask the officer the reason for the encounter. If you are not satisfied with the reason, respectfully ask the officer for his/her name, badge number, and ask to speak with his/her supervisor. Please feel free to make a complaint if you feel you are a victim of bias-based profiling with our command staff via this email.

Or call us at (352) 330-1355