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Racial Profiling Law

August 23, 2000
By: Katy Scott
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 1053

JEFFERSON CITY - Law enforcement officials making traffic stops will be recording more than violations beginning Monday.

Missouri's Attorney General announced emergency rules to immediately implement a law passed by the Missouri Legislature last spring that requires officers to take down personal information, such as race, gender and age, when stopping drivers for traffic violations.

The law takes effect Monday.

Mary Still, director of policy for the attorney general's office, said the information gathered will show whether officers stop an unusually large number of minorities.

"Driving while black is not a crime," she said. "There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that African Americans and other people of color are being stopped disproportionately. This will give us statistical information."

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon filed emergency rules to help law enforcement agencies implement the law. These temporary guidelines will remain in effect until permanent rules are approved, which is expected by the end of February, said Scott Holste, a Nixon spokesman. He said the proposed permanent rules will be tweaked based partly on public comment to be taken through Oct. 16.

The attorney general's office also provided law enforcement agencies with forms that police officers can fill out on the scene listing all required information. Opponents of the law have raised concerns about the time needed to complete such forms, but Sheldon Lineback, executive director of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, said traffic stops shouldn't be much longer than usual.

"Basically, we're going to be filling out one more page," he said. "Times range from a couple minutes more a stop to 30 seconds a stop."

According to the law, the attorney general will report the recorded information annually to the governor and the General Assembly, at which point the governor can withhold funds from any agency that is stopping a disproportionate number of minorities.