The only newsworthy aspect to this story about the Fort Worth Police Department implementing a new ban on “bias-based policing” is that, previously, bias-based policing was apparently a reasonable way for officers to conduct themselves. Racial profiling? Gender stereotyping? Completely fine! But in a new special order Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff “Take A Deep Breath” Halstead (pictured) signed on Friday, no longer can cops consider the “race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or other individual characteristics or distinctions” while on the job. And if a cop is found to violate this order? He will face “termination in most cases,” says department spokesman Lt. Paul Henderson.
So how is this different from “racial profiling”? Because it bans any profiling. “The bias-based policing policy prohibits any prejudice from entering into the decision-making process,” says Henderson. “We may not be able to change a person’s behavior at work completely, but we sure can change their employment status if they bring their prejudices to the workplace.”
Don’t get me wrong: I think this is wonderful. A written policy expressly forbidding police officers from going after anyone based on immutable characteristics, as well as faith and socio-economic status is exactly the sort of thing every government agency across the land should have. But enacting a policy like this one just reminds us the Ft. Worth Police Department didn’t previously outright ban this behavior. Like back in July 2009, when the cops targeted the gay bar Rainbow Lounge, sent Chad Gibson to the hospital with a brain injury, and then refused to take responsibility for it.
Back then, it was considered perfectly good police work.