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Archive for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Computer system to guard against racial profiling

March 28, 2006

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— A new racial profiling law in Kansas won't catch some police departments off guard.

Garden City police are already developing a procedure and computer database to document drivers of traffic stops, even though it is not required by the new state law that becomes effective June 1, said police Capt. Mike Utz.

The law will require agencies to log official complaints and investigations of racial profiling against law enforcement officers, with the results sent to the Kansas Attorney General's office in an annual report.

A computer database will streamline that process while building in department-wide safeguards against racial profiling, said Garden City Police Chief James Hawkins.

Hawkins said a two-month trial of the department's new system in January and February resulted in more than 1,800 traffic stops. About 50 percent of those involved Hispanic drivers and 50 percent non-Hispanic.

"Keep in mind, the data is raw statistics that can change with the population of the community," Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he isn't sure how much the system will cost to operate, but it may require an additional full-time employee.

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