Nevada police groups oppose racial profiling measure
April 8, 2003
Nevada police groups told lawmakers Monday they object to a plan to prevent racial profiling by requiring officers to maintain records of the ethnicity and age of every driver they stop.
The proposal by Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, would require state and local police to indefinitely continue a traffic stop survey from last year. It would expand reporting to include pedestrians and names of officers making stops.
SB360 also calls for officers to attend racial sensitivity training and mandates that the Department of Motor Vehicles notify drivers how to respond if they feel they were stopped because of race.
The proposal won support at a Senate Government Affairs Committee hearing from representatives of Nevada branches of the American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of United Latin American Citizens.
Gary Peck of ACLU Nevada said new statistics were essential to ensuring that sensitivity training was effective. “You cannot manage what you do not measure,” he said.
Mark Nichols of the National Association of Social Workers said the measure will help assure Nevadans that “law enforcement will be fair, will be just and unbiased in their enforcement of the laws.”
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Police groups told lawmakers they support training and DMV notification. But Lt. Stan Olsen of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police termed continued data collection “pointless.”
“We did gather data,” said Olsen, also representing the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association. “The issue now is to address the result of what came up after the last data gathering, which was pretty expensive.”
Lobbyists for Reno police and the state Highway Patrol agreed. They maintain that the 1-2 minutes officers spent filling out traffic stop forms drained time, manpower and other resources from law enforcement agencies. Olsen said last year’s survey cost Las Vegas police $342,000, and the Nevada Highway Patrol $243,000.
The survey of 386,000 traffic stops found that Nevada police stopped black motorists at a rate nearly double the state’s black population. Hispanics and blacks were more likely to be handcuffed during a traffic stop than whites and Asians.
Several bill were introduced so far this session in response to the report. The Senate Government Affairs Committee previously killed a measure making racial profiling a misdemeanor crime, as Oklahoma and New Jersey have done.
The panel took no action on SB360.