Two lawmakers began circulating legislation last week that would repeal a provision requiring police officers to note the racial makeup of those they pull over, just three weeks after its inception.
Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin and Rep. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, authored the bill to repeal the requirement after hearing police officer complaints.
“We’ve heard police across the state asking for repeal,” said Wanggaard’s spokesperson Scott Kelly. “It does nothing to stop racial profiling and introduces race into a situation where it need not exist.”
The original provision sought to determine whether minorities are stopped and searched more often than non-minorities. The data an officer records is sent to the Office of Justice Assistance for analysis.
“Madison police have been taking that data on its system for many years. It’s nothing new for us to capture that,” Madison Police Department Captain Carl Gloede said.
He added MPD would probably continue to record the information even if the new bill is made into law.
Critics pointed out an officer working in a predominantly minority area will pull over more minority drivers than non-minority drivers, which would look like racial profiling to analysts at the OAJ.
The numbers reported to the OAJ may not reflect the current issues going on in the community, and officers should be ready to explain themselves should the state find anything alarming while analyzing data, Gloede said.
The requirement may also lengthen the time it takes for an officer to pull over a driver, and require officers to record certain information twice, Kelly said.
“Information the officers record on the traffic citation, like time of day and where they are pulled over, must be taken down twice,” Kelly said. “The average traffic stop tripled in time and now can last up to 40 minutes.”
However, police using electronic systems to record traffic stop data will find duplicating the information is quick and easy, and sometimes done automatically by the computer, Gloede said.
The new bill is being sent around the Capitol for additional sponsors. Lazich’s office would not release names of potential sponsors at this time, choosing to wait until the bill stops circulating on Jan. 28.