Profiling, defined as the generation of a set of common traits specific to a pattern of crime, is a useful tool in law enforcement. Developing a profile allows law enforcement to focus efforts and resources to address particular crime patterns. However, bias based profiling, defined as the selection of individuals based solely on a trait common to a group for enforcement action, is expressly prohibited by law and by Gwinnett County Police Department policy. Bias based profiling is unethical, illegal, and fosters distrust in law enforcement. Police officers at the Gwinnett County Police Department are required to focus on specific conduct or suspect information as they conduct investigations. Officers are forbidden from targeting individuals or groups by bias based profiling. Gwinnett County Police Department officers receive annual training on this matter.
WSB TV brought up an issue regarding the targeting of Dodge Chargers by law enforcement. Dodge Chargers, or any other vehicle, are not singled out by GCPD without a valid investigative purpose. For example, if a white Ford F-150 truck was seen leaving the scene of a bank robbery, officers would pay especially close attention to white Ford F-150s in the area. Dodge Chargers are commonly stolen vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Officers on patrol do pay close attention to commonly stolen vehicles.
In the particular case addressed by WSB TV (complaint by Fred Williamson against Ofc. Swanda) the complainant drove a Dodge Charger. The investigation into the complaint revealed that the officer was observing a particular location for drug activity based on prior events and cases. The officer had reason to believe the complainant could be participating in drug activity based on his observations and conducted a traffic stop based on an equipment violation. The make and model of the complainant’s vehicle were not a factor in the stop or the investigation. The fact that Dodge Chargers are commonly stolen vehicles also was not a factor in the stop or investigation.
Statement from Gwinnett police on profiling investigation
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