(a) The Legislature finds that the use by a law-enforcement officer of race, ethnicity, or national origin in deciding which persons should be subject to traffic stops, stops and frisks, questioning, searches, and seizures is a problematic law-enforcement tactic. The reality or public perception of racial profiling alienates people from police, hinders community policing efforts, and causes law-enforcement officers and law-enforcement agencies to lose credibility and trust among the people law-enforcement is sworn to protect and serve. Therefore, the West Virginia Legislature declares that racial profiling is contrary to public policy and should not be used as a law-enforcement investigative tactic.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(1) The term "law-enforcement officer" means any duly authorized member of a law-enforcement agency who is authorized to maintain public peace and order, prevent and detect crime, make arrests and enforce the laws of the state or any county or municipality thereof.
(2) The term "municipality" means any incorporated town or city whose boundaries lie within the geographic boundaries of the state.
(3) The term "racial profiling" means the practice of a law-enforcement officer relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, or national origin in selecting which individuals to subject to routine investigatory activities, or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law-enforcement activity following the initial routine investigatory activity. Racial profiling does not include reliance on race, ethnicity, or national origin in combination with other identifying factors when the law-enforcement officer is seeking to apprehend a specific suspect whose race, ethnicity, or national origin is part of the description of the suspect.
(4) The term "state and local law-enforcement agencies" means any duly authorized state, county or municipal organization employing one or more persons whose responsibility is the enforcement of laws of the state or any county or municipality thereof.
(c) No law-enforcement officer shall engage in racial profiling.
(d) All state and local law-enforcement agencies shall establish and maintain policies and procedures designed to eliminate racial profiling. Policies and procedures shall include the following:
(1) A prohibition on racial profiling;
(2) Independent procedures for receiving, investigating, and responding to complaints alleging racial profiling by law-enforcement officers;
(3) Procedures to discipline law-enforcement officers who engage in racial profiling;
(4) Procedures to insure the inclusion of training in the investigation of organized criminal enterprises and anti-racial profiling training in new officer training and to law-enforcement officers who have not received such training as certified by the Governor's committee; and
(5) Any other policies and procedures deemed necessary by state and local law-enforcement agencies to eliminate racial profiling.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.