Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that he is preparing new guidance aimed at ending the practice of racial profiling among police, an effort that is part of a larger Obama administration plan to improve relationships between cops and communities.
"[I]n the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards – and robust safeguards – to help end racial profiling, once and for all," he said in a speech in Atlanta, Georgia. "This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing."
Holder indicated the plan is also part of the White House's reaction to the events in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white cop killed a black teenager. That incident led to protests, rioting and complaints from black residents that police there are consistently violating their civil rights.
"The issues raised in Missouri are not unique to that state or that small city," he said. "We are dealing with concerns that are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation."
"Our police officers cannot be seen as an occupying force disconnected from the communities they serve," he added. "Bonds that have been broken must be restored. Bonds that never existed must now be created."
But while the administration has used Ferguson as a chance to create new federal programs, many conservatives say the shooting death of Michael Brown was not the result of an abuse of police power, and was instead the result of Brown's actions. Brown is believed to have robbed a convenience store, and then punched and later charged the police officer who eventually shot him.
Nonetheless, many Democrats have cited Brown's death as the latest example of abusive police practices, and some referenced the "hands up, don't shoot" protests on the House floor Monday night.
In his speech, Holder noted that President Barack Obama has asked his staff to write an Executive Order directing agencies to work with law enforcement and civil rights groups to "find ways to improve the effectiveness, integrity, accountability and transparency of these initiatives."
Obama has proposed spending more than $200 million to fund a program that would place body cameras on police to record their interactions with civilians.