State House to reconsider traffic stop racial profiling bill

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Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday will debate highly controversial legislation that would require police officers to collect data about race and ethnicity at traffic stops.

SB84, sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, seeks to put an end to the racial profiling of Alabama drivers. It is on the proposed special order calendar.

The legislation would require police agencies to record data about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists including the nature of the alleged traffic violation that resulted in the stop and whether a warning or citation was issued, an arrest made, or a search conducted as a result of the stop. Law enforcement agencies would then report the information to the attorney general, who would compile a report and penalize police departments who are guilty of racial profiling in the form of withholding funds from the county or municipal police department until such time that the county or municipal police department completes appropriate training regarding racial profiling.

The Alabama Senate unanimously approved the legislation in January, but the measure failed a procedural vote in the House last week when lawmakers refused to debate the bill.

Supporters of SB84 believe records would reveal if there’s a pattern of police stopping drivers simply because they are African-American, which could help put an end to the alleged practice once and for all.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Sheriff’s Association opposes the bill saying it creates an unnecessary burden on law enforcement to collect the information.

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1 Comment

  1. Wonder if the Alabama Sheriff’s Association opposition to the bill arguing it creates an “unnecessary burden” on law enforcement to collect information. I would think this type demographic information would be invaluable to police when defending their departments AGAINST allegations of chronic racial profiling. But the other side of the double edged sword of visibility and transparency into what is actually going on during police stops is that police departments who ARE accused and found guilty of racial profiling, may be penalized in the form of withholding funds from the county or municipal police department until such time that the county or municipal police department rectifies their racial profiling actions.
    Follow the money, could it be that the Alabama Sheriff’s Association opposition to the bill has nothing to do with “undue burden” and possibly everything to do with maintaining the flow of money to their department.

    L

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