Illinois Looks at "DWB" Bill

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
December 7, 1999 12:00 am

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CHICAGO — Adding fire to the debate over allegations of “racial profiling” by police in Illinois, State Senator Barack Obama announced plans on Monday, December 6th, to sponsor a bill requiring state police to record and release statistics on the race of all motorists they stop.

The statistics would then be studied in an effort to determine whether there is a pattern of discrimination in the state.

Obama, who is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 1st congressional district, said the bill was a response to constituents’ concerns that Illinois state police may target minority motorists for traffic stops and searches.

Obama noted that analyses conducted in North Carolina, Texas, and New Jersey have revealed such bias by police in those states. He also said that at least 13 other states require highway patrols to record race on citations and warnings.

The senator announced his plans while flanked by representatives from the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.

Harvey Grossman, Legal Director of the ACLU of Illinois, said that expert analyses by his organization have shown that some state troopers stopped Hispanic drivers at a substantially higher rate than their proportion of the population. Those analyses were prepared for the ACLU’s federal lawsuit against Illinois police, which is currently on appeal.

State police have said that the ACLU’s conclusions about racial profiling are flawed. They declined to comment on the new bill proposed by Senator Obama.

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