ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A law requiring police to record the race of people they stop, arrest, and/or search is set to expire, and while some lawmakers are ready to press restart, those in law enforcement say it’s time to scrap the mandate.
“That’s unfunded time, that’s time that we would normally be spent on something else,” says Urbana Police Sgt. Andrew Charles.
And it’s not just time and money he’s concerned about; while he admits the data has helped with community relations, he says it’s no longer serving a purpose.
Urbana is one of the few cities that dug deeper in reports. Based on their analysis he says the annual numbers don’t show the full picture.
“This is a complex and deep issues, there’s a lot of layers in it and i think things can always be better I’m not sure this tool truly gives us a useful incite into the process.”
Collecting racial data has been part of the job for all Illinois officers since 2004. The law was created by then, state lawmaker President Barack Obama, to combat racial profiling.
Since then, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has collected and published a detailed report annually.
The most recent one, from 2016 shows non-whites were nearly 40% more likely to be stopped than whites for a traffic violation. it’s an increase from last year.
Some people of color like Kamau Kemayo say this isn’t the time to take steps backwards.
“Black people and black scholars have talked about the way in which we’re abused and the way in which we are oppressed by the police, this data clearly shows that this is happening, so its useful to have that so it doesn’t just seem like it’s speculation.”
The Illinois Sheriffs Association and Illinois Chiefs of Police are both want the program to expire.
While the original plan promised an in-depth analysis of the data after the first three years, that’s yet to happen.
Legislation to renew the mandate is expected to be called in the Senate this week.
If it doesn’t pass the mandate could expire July 2019.
The Illinois State Police also publishes data showing what races they pull over. Their report shows whites and non whites are pulled over at nearly the same rate. 1 to 1.07. Their organization has not taken a stance on the mandate.