Passage of 'Traffic Stop Data Collection Act' in Illinois is Key "First Step" to End of Racial Profiling, ACLU Says

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
March 3, 2000 12:00 am

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CHICAGO, IL — Calling it a “clear signal” that the state’s highest leadership will not tolerate racial profiling, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today praised the passage of House Bill 3911 – the Traffic Stop Data Collection Act – by the Illinois House of Representatives.

The measure, vigorously opposed by some law enforcement groups, secured 78 votes, demonstrating statewide, bipartisan support. Sponsored by Representative Monique Davis (D- Chicago), the measure requires the Illinois State Police to collect two additional items of information and record them on the face of a traffic or warning citation: the race of the person stopped and whether a search was conducted that resulted in no further legal action.

“We are pleased and gratified that the Illinois House of Representatives acted today to advance a concrete solution to the invidious practice of racial profiling,” said ACLU spokesperson Edwin C. Yohnka. “Today’s vote sends a clear signal that the political leadership in this state will not tolerate the targeting of ethnic minorities for harassment by law enforcement agencies.”

The ACLU noted that a number of states already have initiated procedures for collecting data on the race or ethnicity of motorists stopped and searched by police. Under the terms of a consent decrees with the U.S. Department of Justice, New Jersey and Maryland agreed recently to collect data on the race of those stopped by police. Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and Connecticut all are collecting this data voluntarily or because of a legislative act. Eighteen other states, including Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and Wisconsin are considering legislation this year to mandate the collection of similar data.

In addition, more than 100 local law enforcement agencies have begun to collect and analyze this data on a municipal basis. These agencies include the police departments for large cities such as Houston, San Jose and San Francisco, as well as Urbana, Illinois. The village of Mount Prospect, Illinois, stung by its own racial profiling scandal, announced earlier this week that it will begin to collect and analyze racial data related to traffic stops.

“With passage of this bill by the state senate and approval by Governor Ryan, Illinois will move into the mainstream of states collecting data about the racial and ethnic background of persons stopped for traffic offenses,” said the ACLU’s Yohnka. “This process creates an objective record that allows us to determine if racial profiling is going on around the state, and establishes accountability at the highest levels of the Illinois State Police to insure that no racial profiling is occurring.”

House Bill 3911 now moves to the Illinois Senate for consideration in that body.

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