President Barack Obama had worked earlier in his career to curb racial profiling, but when he reached the Oval Office he found it wasn't as high of a priority for Congress.
Obama had helped pass an anti-profiling law as a state senator in Illinois, and cosponsored a similar bill, the End Racial Profiling Act, as a U.S. senator for the state. But overall, there was little effort by lawmakers to follow up.
Democrats in the House and Senate have been introducing ERPA bills since 2001. Versions of the bill (the last was in 2015) prohibited federal agencies from using racial profiling, allowed people to sue for damages from being profiled and tied federal funding for state and local law enforcement agencies to anti-profiling guidelines.
The White House supported these bills to varying degrees during Obama's two terms, but with no bill making it to a vote in the House or Senate, Obama had nothing to sign into law.
Several cases in which local police officers killed unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Mo., New York and Cleveland led Obama's Justice Department to institute new personnel rules to try to ease racial profiling.
In December 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced his agency had banned racial profiling from national security cases. FBI agents were directed not to consider national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity when opening cases, as well as race and ethnicity. These were guidelines for state and local agents if they were acting as part of federal cases, but they weren't binding.
"As attorney general, I have repeatedly made clear that profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective," Holder said. "Particularly in light of certain recent incidents we've seen at the local level, and the widespread concerns about trust in the criminal justice process, it's imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing practices."
The White House also announced in 2014 a new task force on 21st century policing to help identify new and better ways for law enforcement to interact with their communities.
In 2016, the Justice Department said it would continue to help implement the task force's findings. The department then said it would train law enforcement agents to recognize and address implicit bias — underlying prejudices of which agents might otherwise be unaware.
No racial profiling bill passed Congress during Obama's administration, but his Justice Department did overhaul its rules to address racial profiling. We rate this a Compromise.