Comprehensive Racial Profiling Bill
Category: 2009 Racial Profiling
Though it got a hearing in the House, neither chamber took action on comprehensive legislation, supported by the ACLU and a few dozen other organizations, designed to strengthen the state’s anti-racial profiling law The ACLU, the Urban League, PrYSM and other groups testified in support of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Rhoda Perry and Rep. Joseph Almeida. As in past years, the State Police and the RI Police Chiefs Association expressed opposition to the bill, which would significantly strengthen the state’s current racial profiling law.
Among other things, the bill would require police to document the grounds for conducting car searches; limits the authority of police to demand identification from innocent passengers; bans so-called “pretext” stops; and reestablishes traffic stop data collection procedures.
An analysis of traffic stop data in Rhode Island has irrefutably shown that both blacks and Latinos are disproportionately stopped and searched by police in the state, even though they are less likely than whites to be found with contraband. Further, three out of four searches allegedly based on probable cause turn up no evidence of contraband. The ACLU believes passage of the bill is more urgent than ever, as racial profiling has only been exacerbated with some police departments now using traffic stops as an excuse to check into passengers’ immigration status.(S-155, H-5108). Read a summary of this bill.