CHP Officers Predict California DWB Compromise Will Lead to More Ticketing of Minorities
SACRAMENTO, CA — According to a story in today’s Sacramento Bee, a scaled-down racial profiling bill backed by California Gov. Gray Davis but dismissed as meaningless by leading civil rights groups cleared a key legislative committee Tuesday and now will be considered by the Assembly. The measure, SB 66, by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City, would require police to give their business cards to motorists they pull over. But officers would not have to record the motorist’s ethnicity, as Murray originally had proposed.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Murray testified that the governor’s refusal to support a data collection bill left supporters with the option of settling for nothing or redrafting the measure to make it easier for motorists who feel they’ve been stopped because of their color to file a complaint. According to the newspaper, Murray said requiring officers to give motorists their cards with a telephone number they can call will achieve that goal — as well as head off tension that often occurs when motorists asks for an officer’s name.
But Aaron Read, a representative of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, said his union has concerns the business card requirement, which applies only to stops not resulting in a ticket, would end up pressuring officers write more tickets to justify pulling over motorists. Murray’s previous legislation was vetoed last year by Davis, who agreed to support the senator’s new measure if he deleted the data collection requirement.
Opponents — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens — contend that by agreeing to do so, Murray effectively gutted the bill. (More information is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w042800a.html .) “This bill is not meaningful,” said Michelle Alexander, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project. “It creates the illusion that something is being done to address the problem.
“This bill would be a political excuse for Gov. Gray Davis to never sign a mandatory data collection bill,” she said. “It will create a public perception that something important has been done when, in fact, victims of discriminatory police practices will be left in the same situation they were before.”
Davis is the only sitting governor to have vetoed a racial profiling data collection bill. (More information is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/1999/n092899a.html.)
Supporters of data collection say the information can be used to legally challenge and reduce police abuses.
Governors of five states — Missouri, North Carolina, Kansas, Washington and Connecticut — have signed racial profiling bills into law. (More information is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w060600a.html.) The issue has also inflamed tensions in other states. “This is not the end of the fight for racial profiling, as is no piece of legislation the end of progress on any issue,” Murray said. “We will continue pushing on this issue, including data collection.” Editorials appearing in several California newspapers have opposed the Davis/Murray compromise measure as inadequate. (More information is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w052100a.html.)
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