The Portland Police Department is now compliant with a state law requiring local law enforcement agencies to implement policies against racial profiling.
The requirement came with the 2015 Racial Profiling Prevention Act, drafted in reaction to the 2014 fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and additional deaths of unarmed black suspects by white police officers across the nation.
Also known as Public Chapter 335 the act requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy that prohibits racial profiling by its employees. The policy was to be in place by Jan. 1, 2016.
The Portland Police Department passed its policy on July 18.
PPD Chief Anthony Heavner said after he was hired in April he found out the department did not have the policy and proposed it to the city council.
“We don’t have any problems with racial profiling here in Portland,” Heavner said. “I haven’t seen it where I’ve worked.”
Tennessee law defines racial profiling as detaining or delaying an individual during a traffic stop or in the field “solely on the basis of the individual’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”
Portland’s policy states the department will use “constitutional policing principles that protect citizens from racial profiling and send clear direction to officers that racial profiling is never permitted.”
Tennessee passed a Racial Profiling Prevention Act in 2008, according to Tennessean archives. As adopted, it only “strongly encouraged” law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy banning the practice.
The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office instituted its policy Jan. 1, SCSO Chief Deputy Aaron Pickard said.
Other Sumner County cities have had policies in place for several years.
The Gallatin Police Department implemented a bias-based profiling policy in 2008 and has maintained compliance verified through The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and The Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, Chief Don Bandy said.
“The Gallatin Police Department will not discriminate,” Bandy said. “We are professionally and personally committed to that. Furthermore, our Constitution, our oath of office, internal policies and various certifications prohibit this illegal activity.”
Hendersonville Police Department passed its policy on Sept. 30, 2015. The policy is now under annual review and may be updated, HPD Lt. Janel Rogan said.
The Westmoreland Police Department’s policy has been on the books since January 2014, Chief Ray Amalfitano said, but is in the process of being updated.
“The racial profiling policy we have right now is very vague to me,” Amalfitano said. “I’m in the process of revamping it and making it lengthier, and more in-depth to better fit this department.”
Amalfitano said he hopes to have the policy before the city attorney as soon as Tuesday. The Westmoreland City Council could vote on it during their next regular meeting on Sept. 15.
Millersville Police Department had a policy in place “a long, long time” before the 2015 requirement, Millersville City Manager Caryn Miller said.
The status of policies for the city of Goodlettsville and White House were not immediately available.
Reach Dessislava Yankova at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @desspor.