Senate votes to collect data on race and traffic stops
Jan. 17, 2018
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Police would be required to collect data on race and traffic stops, under an anti-racial profiling bill approved Tuesday by the Alabama Senate.
Senators voted 27-0 for the bill that would require police agencies to annually submit to the state information about traffic stops, including the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists. The bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.
"Profiling exists," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D- Birmingham, said. "It happens every day."
During the debate, Smitherman, who is black, described being stopped by police near his home as he and his wife, who is a circuit judge, were driving home after visiting their daughter. Smitherman said he did not receive a ticket and suspected they were stopped because they were a black couple driving a Lexus late at night.
Agencies would be required to annually submit reports on the number of people stopped for traffic violations and the "race, color, ethnicity, gender and age" of the individuals. Police would also report the reason for the stop and the outcome, including if a warning or citation were issued.
The attorney general could recommend training if he, or she, thinks the data indicates a problem.
The bill would also require police departments to adopt written policies that prohibit the stopping of motorists solely based on "race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual orientation."
The state Senate approved the bill last year, but it did not clear the House before the session ended.
Republican Sen Larry Stutts of Tuscumbia said he was concerned lawmakers were sending a message that they did not trust law enforcement. Stutts added an amendment to also collect data on injuries to officers.