House delays vote, continues negotiations on bill to track race at traffic stops

police traffic stop

Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday adjourned before debating a highly controversial bill that would require police officers to collect data about race and ethnicity at traffic stops, so that they could continue negotiations.

The bill, SB84, sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, has been added to Wednesday’s first special order calendar. It seeks to put an end to the racial profiling of Alabama drivers. 

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.