Friday, May 13, 2005

Racial profiling bill goes to Bredesen for signature

The Tennessean reports that a bill requiring state troopers to track racial data and funding a study of the data has passed in both houses of the state legislature and is headed to Governor Phil Bredesen for his signature.

"Rep. Henri Brooks, D-Memphis, said the study would help prove or disprove complaints from her constituents that minorities are being unfairly stopped."

"The study proposed in the legislation will track the ethnic and racial characteristics of people stopped by highway patrol officers. Troopers will be required to note a reason for all stops, even those where no citation is issued."

"Officers will note whether each stop resulted in a citation, an arrest or a search. If a search was made, the legal basis for the search and whether any contraband was discovered or property seized would also be documented."

"A previous study of 44 law enforcement agencies in Tennessee, not including THP, was released in 2002. It found that ... officers searched Hispanics 140% more often than the state average and blacks 16% more than the state average. Evidence was seized from Hispanics and blacks more often than the state averages."

"The study's authors, however, said the data did not definitively show or refute that racial profiling was happening in Tennessee. Other factors - such as commuting patterns, tourism, demographics of universities and colleges, and the deployment of law enforcement within a city - might be at work, the study's authors said."

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