The ACLU of Virginia this morning asked the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to approve a measure to require state police, under supervision, to collect and analyze data on racial profiling by police officers.  The bill is on the agenda for today's committee meeting and could be voted up or down this afternoon.
In a memo sent to all members of the Courts Committee, the ACLU first addresses the recently released study of racial profiling by the State Police.  Widely interpreted as proof that  racial profiling does not exist in Virginia, the report, according to the ACLU, is too limited in scope to draw such conclusions and actually concludes that a law requiring data collection may be needed.
The ACLU memo points to other Atlantic Coast states where profiling studies have been conducted.  In all cases, the data indicate that widespread profiling exists.
"It is time for Virginia to pass this law," said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.  "The anecdotal evidence of racial profiling is strong, other states know it exists, and even the study by the Virginia State Police says that passing a law may be wise thing to do."
"This law will allow us to get to the bottom of the issue." Willis added. " If the data collected by police contradict the anecdotal information and the studies from other states, then Virginia can proudly claim that racial profiling does not exist on our highways.  On the other hand, if the data indicate that minorities are targeted for discriminatory treatment, then the foundation for changing the way police conduct traffic stops will have been laid.  Either way, Virginia benefits."
Additional Information. SB 280, Racial Profiling and Traffic Statistics Reporting Act,  is sponsored by Senator Henry Marsh.  The Senate Courts of Justice Committee is scheduled to meet today at 2:00 p.m. in Senate Room A in the General Assembly Building. Although on the agenda, there is no guarantee that the bill will be heard.
A copy of the ACLU of Virginia memo is found at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20020129-Racial-Profiling-Bill-Study.pdf

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