House Approves Racial Profiling Bill

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 – Robert Lang
The House of Delegates has passed legislation supporters say will stop racial profiling by police. 

The bill will require police departments to report to state officials any traffic stop an officer makes.

Among the data police officers must submit include the race of the person stopped, and whether any arrests were made.

The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention collects the data, and other state officials will use the data to determine if police are engaging in a pattern of racial profiling.

The practice has been in place for ten years.  The legislation approved today would extend the practice for three years.

In floor debate Southern Maryland Democratic Delegate C.T. Wilson, who is a former prosecutor, said the bill is needed to help police gain back the trust of African-Americans and other minorities.

“Accountability is sacrosanct.  There is somebody looking over our shoulder as it should be.  If we want to maintain the trust of our citizens, or in some cases gain it back, this bill is important,” Wilson said.

The lawmaker, who is African American, also talked about a traffic stop last year that he believed was racially motivated.

Eastern Shore Republican Delegate Mike McDermott, who is a former law enforcement officer, noted that the reporting requirement is costly for local police department, and that state has already collected enough data on racial profiling.

“How about ten years worth of data?  How about trusting that for a change. How about the folks back home who want to trust us to do the right thing, and save them from some needless spending,” McDermott asked.

The bill passed by a vote of 100-37.  It now goes to the State Senate.

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