State Traffic Study Has Some Minorities, Police Officers Divided

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

When he found out in part of a state study that Rockford police were more likely to give minority drivers traffic citations and consent searches than Caucasian drivers, NAACP Rockford president Willie Bell was both troubled and disappointed.

"They are taking our people, and giving them an arrest record. They're trying to build an arrest record for our people," Bell said.

Rockford and Illinois State police declined comment on the report, however in a statement, Rockford Deputy Chief Chet Epperson says while there were some errors in the written warning numbers, all of the reports other information was an accurate representation. Bell, on the other hand, says the study gives the NAACP fresh ammunition and a hot topic at their state conference this October.

"Within a couple of years, we'll be able to fight anything that comes before us, and we'll be able to fight anything because we're not bringing just black people from in-state, but black people from all over the world," Bell said.

While some police departments argue the study doesn't paint the full picture of their work, Bell believes the numbers don't lie, and is proof minorities are a target for some police officers. The study has some minorities up in arms, and some police officers defending how they enforce the law.

"If they're driving real bad, give them a ticket. But if they're not driving real bad, you have no reason to be going through their vehicle, looking for everything they can," Bell said.

In response to the racial profiling study, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich introduced new plans to address racial disparities. Those include increased sensitivity training for police officers, specifically training for consent searches.

If you would like to see more of the statistics revealed from this report log onto www.dot.il.gov/trafficstop/2004study.pdf.


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