TOPEKA, KS -- According to a story in today's Topeka Capital-Journal, a new Kansas law takes effect Saturday requiring a study be conducted to determine whether law enforcement agencies in the state engage in racial profiling. But a state official says it likely will be several months before research begins.
Kansas Highway Patrol Sgt. John Eichkorn said Friday that once a research plan has been approved, Kansas law enforcement agencies would likely need to make some changes in they way they keep records. Eichkorn said his agency would cooperate with researchers "because we wholeheartedly support any system that would show exactly what is happening in regard to racial profiling in Kansas."
Kansas' neighboring state of Missouri recently enacted what the ACLU has called the strongest state legislation enacted to date to fight racial profiling. (See http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w060600a.html .) In Kansas, the state must still decide who will conduct the study, said Don Brown, press secretary for Gov. Bill Graves. Racial profiling is the practice by law enforcement officers of targeting minority drivers for traffic stops and searches. The newspaper reported that the study set up under the new law will collect information on whether officers tend to stop motorists and pedestrians based on their race, gender or age. Graves' office would subsequently report the findings to the state Legislature.
Brown said Friday that Graves' office, the Kansas attorney general's office and the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Commission would soon team up to write a "request" to describe what the state is seeking and ask researchers to submit proposals outlining how they would conduct the study. Brown said the request could be anywhere from one paragraph to several pages long. .)
"I would assume this request may be on the longer side," he said. Brown said the request would appear in the Kansas Register, the weekly publication that the state uses to provide public notice of its activities, and likely run in other publications that are yet to be determined. He said authorities hope to ensure the request is seen by academic institutions, non-profit groups and private companies with strong research programs that may want to conduct the study.
The Capital-Journal reported that state officials would examine proposals submitted by those entities, then choose the best one, Brown said. While the state hasn't set a timetable as to when it must choose a researcher, he said, "We will try to get this work done in a timely fashion." Brown added that those who choose the research proposal would ask for advice from legislative leaders and legislators who wrote the racial profiling law.
"We won't conduct this process in a vacuum," he said.
Information on racial profiling bills being considered in selected states this year is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w060900a.html(Rhode Island), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w040600b.html (Maryland), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n051200c.html , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w031600a.html (Missouri) , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w031000a.html (South Carolina) , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w030200a.html , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n012400b.html (Washington) , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w021000b.html (Oklahoma), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w060700a.html , (Tennessee), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w020100b.html (New Jersey), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w012700a.html (California), http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w012100a.html (Kansas), http://archive.aclu.org/news/1999/w122299b.html, http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w021000a.html (Florida) and http://archive.aclu.org/news/1999/w122299a.html (Utah).