SPRINGFIELD - As the state released results of its second annual study of racial profiling in police stops, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to extend Illinois’ landmark traffic stop study. The measure delivers on the Governor’s pledge last year to extend the study and to create an advisory board that will be charged with tackling the problem of bias-based policing. The Illinois Racial Profiling Study, which began in 2004 and is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), was scheduled to end December 31, 2007, but Senate Bill 2368 extends the study through July 1, 2010.
“Three years simply is not enough time for a study as important as this, so extending it is a step in the right direction,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “We want to take every step possible to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally during traffic stops.”
Data collected for the 2005 study shows that there was a slight decline in the number of minorities stopped statewide, a decrease in the number of consent searches and also a small decrease in the disparity in traffic stops between whites and minorities.
Senate Bill 2368, sponsored by Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), creates the Racial Profiling Prevention and Data Oversight Board, a 15-member board that will include lawmakers, state officials, local law enforcement, representatives of community organizations representing minority interests, as well as a representative from Illinois’ academic community with expertise in statistical analysis and law enforcement.
The legislation was a key initiative recommended by the state’s Racial Profiling Task Force, which the Governor called for in the wake of the 2004 report. The task force was co-chaired by Rep. Davis, Sen. Raoul, Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) and Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago).
“I am pleased that Gov. Blagojevich was able to help convene various stakeholders to reach common consensus on this legislation,” said Sen. Raoul (D-Chicago). “By coming together we were able to enhance and extend the study of racial profiling data in the State of Illinois. The additions of categories - including duration of the traffic stop, whether or not a consent search was requested and whether contraband was found during the consent search - will help us better address concerns regarding disparities identified by the data, such as the higher likelihood of consent searches for minorities. Extending the study ensures that we do not jump to conclusions prematurely.”
“The profiling study has put the spotlight on how race relates to traffic stops throughout the State and has already had a positive effect on law enforcement by helping to reduce the number of drivers that are stopped or cited without a valid reason,” said Rep. Davis. “It is important for us to continue to analyze the data and find ways to make improvements to the study, and to identify strategies to address bias-based profiling throughout the State. Through cooperation and support from law enforcement, we have been able to expand and extend the existing law.”
The advisory board will be charged with coordinating the development and adoption of plans and strategies to eliminate racial profiling in Illinois. It will also develop policies for police agencies designed to protect the civil rights of individuals’ as related to traffic stops. The board must also recommend whether or not to continue the racial profiling study that is now scheduled to end on July 1, 2010.
SB 2368 also increases the frequency that police agencies must provide their reports to IDOT, from annually to twice a year, and requires that officers record whether or not a vehicle search was requested during a traffic stop, as well as if any contraband is found during a search.
Also in response to last year’s study, Gov. Blagojevich announced in January that the state was providing a $150,000 grant to the Chicago Police Department to help fund a pilot program to install video cameras in police squad cars. Studies have found that the presence of a video camera enhances safety for officers and can promote accountability and trust between a police force and the community it serves. Illinois State Police squad cars are equipped with video cameras.
The Illinois Racial Profiling Study, which began in 2004, involves approximately a thousand police agencies around the state. The study collects data on the ratio of the estimated minority driving population compared to the percentage of stops of minority drivers; the reason for the stop; the outcome of the stop; and whether the officer conducted a consent search of the vehicle.
Results for the first year showed that minorities were more likely than whites to be pulled over for a traffic stop and also more likely to be subjected to a consent search.
For 2005, the overall number of stops was about the same, which indicates that collecting this data is not having a “chilling” effect on police traffic stops as some had predicted. There was, however, a slight dip in the total number of minorities stopped during 2005.
Consequently, the data for 2005 showed there was a slight reduction in the statewide ratio indicating minorities are more likely to be pulled over, from 1.15 in 2004 to 1.12 in 2005. This positive trend was illustrated by the increase in agencies with a ratio of less than 1.0 – which indicates no disparity in stops – from 47 percent to 48 percent. Also, the percentage of agencies with ratios of less than 1.25 increased from 61 percent to 64 percent.
In the area of consent searches, the data for 2005 shows some progress as well as cause for concern. The overall number of consent searches (29,207) was down by 12 percent from 2004 to 2005. This represents slightly more than one percent of all stops. The data showed that in every category of race, the percentage of stops resulting in a consent search dropped. However, the data also found that minority drivers are 2.8 times more likely to be subject to a consent search than white drivers, up from 2.5 times more likely in 2004.
Data for traffic stops by the Illinois State Police (ISP) confirm no disparity in stops by State Troopers, and in fact showed that minorities were stopped at a lower rate than expected, given their percentage in the driving population, at a ratio of 0.89. Also, the reasons for the stop and the outcome of stops were similar for whites and minorities, with about 58 percent of whites receiving tickets compared with 62 percent of minorities.
In a proactive response to the study, ISP has contracted with the University of Texas at Dallas for an in-depth analysis of the data that is being used to enhance ISP training and policies, as well as to form the foundation for an early warning system that can be used to identify indications of biased-based policing.
Data for Illinois’ Racial Profiling Study is collected by the Illinois Department of Transportation in partnership with the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, which provides analysis of the data.