New rules said to limit profiling by U.S. agents

Jan. 16, 2014 at 2:00 AM

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Washington will expand racial profiling's meaning to ban U.S. agents from including religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation, an official said.

Attorney General Eric Holder told New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about his Justice Department plans to expand the federal definition of racial profiling during a meeting in New York, an official told the New York Times.

Holder and de Blasio did not discuss when the rule change would be announced, the official said.

But a senior Democratic congressional aide told the Times the announcement was "imminent."

The Justice Department did not immediately confirm the new rules but released a statement saying Holder and de Blasio discussed "preventing crime while protecting civil rights and civil liberties."

Holder has faced criticism from civil rights groups that federal authorities single out Muslims in counter-terrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

De Blasio has called for a strong citywide anti-racial-profiling bill.

He ran for mayor criticizing the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactic, under which police officers stop and question hundreds of thousands of pedestrians a year and frisk them for weapons and other contraband.

The vast majority of these people have been black and Latino, civil liberties groups say.

A U.S. District Court judge in August declared the practice unconstitutional.

De Blasio has pledged to reform the program. William Bratton, the city's new police commissioner, has said he will review the practice.

The Justice Department's current rules prohibit federal agents from using race as a factor in their investigations unless they have specific, credible information that makes race relevant to a case.

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