CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — President Clinton said Tuesday he has not decided how to issue orders or rules to end racial profiling by federal law officers without interfering with criminal investigations.
Clinton ordered the Treasury, Justice and Interior departments in June to come up with plans for collecting data on the race, sex and ethnicity of people stopped or questioned by the agencies' officers. Field tests were to follow in an effort to move beyond anecdotal information about stops prompted by racial bias and find the truth of what is occurring on the street.
"I had two people who work for me in the White House who were wrongly stopped, handcuffed and hassled the other day," Clinton said in an interview Tuesday in New York, where he went to await election day results.
On Sept. 6, the White House director of presidential personnel, Bob Nash, and his wife, Janice Kearney, Clinton's personal historian, were stopped in a Washington suburb by police alerted to the theft of a sport-utility vehicle similar to Nash's.
At least six officers, guns drawn, approached his SUV. He was handcuffed, ordered to walk backward into a cordon of police cars and was searched. Kearney was ordered to remain in the car as police checked her husband's identification.
Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose, who like Nash and Kearney is black, later said the treatment occurred because his officers considered Nash a car-theft suspect. "This was not racial profiling."
Clinton said he is awaiting a report from Atty. Gen. Janet Reno on profiling.
"We're trying to find a way to issue orders and rules . . . that end racial profiling [but] that clearly do not prevent law enforcement officials from investigating particular crimes. And there is a way to do it," Clinton said.
Such an executive order would only cover federal law officers but would be a model for state and local officials to follow.