Bias-Based Policing

A Guide for Community Education & Awareness

A fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States to all who live in this nation is equal protection under the law. Along with this right to equal protection is the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. Citizens are free to walk and drive our streets, highways and other public places without police interference so long as they obey the law. They also are entitled to be free from crime, and from the depredations from criminals and to drive and walk our public ways safe from the actions of reckless and careless drivers. The Winter Haven Police Department is charged with protecting these rights for all, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical handicap, religion, or other belief system.

Because of the nature of their business, law enforcement officers are required to be observant, to identify unusual occurrences and law violations, and to act upon them. It is proactive enforcement that keeps our citizens free from crime and our streets and highways safe to drive upon. We shall accomplish this mission in a way that respects the dignity of all persons and yet sends a strong deterrent message to actual and potential lawbreakers that if they break the law, they are likely to encounter police.

Bias-Based Policing

The selection of individuals based solely on a trait common to a group for enforcement action. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Race
  • Ethnic Background
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • Economic Status
  • Age
  • Cultural Group
  • Any Other Identifiable Group


It is the policy of the Winter Haven Police Department to patrol in a proactive manner, to aggressively investigate suspicious persons and circumstances, and to actively enforce the motor vehicle laws, while insisting that citizens will only be stopped or detained when there exists reasonable suspicion to believe they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit an infraction of the law.

How to Report Bias-Based Policing

Citizens who feel they have been stopped or searched due to bias-based policing are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department.

Complaints may be filed in person, by mail, electronic mail, or by telephone. To file a complaint in writing or by email please include all facts including names, dates and places known. Please be as detailed as possible.

All complaints will be investigated.

Contact Internal Affairs with any questions or complaints.