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Illinois Data Collection Law Set to Expire; Collected Data Reveal Police Target Black and Latino Drivers

by Douglas Ankney

A law in Illinois that requires data to be reported from state and local police to the Illinois Department of Transportation is set to expire this July. Because “[t]ransparency is the first step toward police accountability and reform,” there are calls to make the law permanent.

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinoi, based on the collected data, found that from 2015 to 2017 black drivers were asked by police to consent to a search 1.7 times more often than white drivers. Latino drivers were asked to consent 1.3 times more often than their white counterparts. Yet when searches were performed, white drivers were found to have contraband 1.3 times more often than both black and Latino drivers. Some police agencies had even worse averages, asking black drivers to consent to searches nine times more often than white drivers and Latino drivers 11 times more often than white drivers.

Often these consent searches occurred on a roadside in an isolated area where the officer, in a one-on-one encounter, had already ordered the person to sit or stand in a particular spot. Because these situations are inherently coercive, serious civil liberty concerns arise as officers seek consent without any legal justification. Repeatedly targeting black and Latino drivers damages law enforcement relationships with the communities they swore to serve and protect. 



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