Allegations by year
Racial profiling complaints reported to Lawrence police:
2006 - 1
2007 - 1
2008 - 0
2009 - 2
Lawrence police blame clerical errors on two complaints of race-based traffic stops reported to the agency in 2009, according to public reports released by the agency.
In both racial profiling reports filed last year, a driver was pulled over for driving with an expired license plate when it was actually valid.
“In both instances … in the computer system, it showed expired but it was later determined, through contacting the treasurer’s office, that it was not expired,” said Sgt. Bill Cory, Lawrence police spokesman.
Both drivers accused officers of being racist, complaints police administrators determined were unfounded.
In the first case, reported at the beginning of 2009, the officer said the driver was pulled over as a courtesy and “no enforcement action was anticipated,” according to the report. In the other case, reported in August, police said the officer could not have known the race of the driver before pulling the driver over.
Cory, who assists in investigating racial profiling complaints for Lawrence police, said it’s common for officers to run license plates through their computer system while they’re on patrol, to ensure they’re legitimate.
Douglas County treasurer Paula Gilchrist said the information in the state treasurer’s computer system was likely incorrect, because there’s sometimes a delay — as much as six weeks in some cases — between when someone updates their vehicle registration in the county treasurer’s office and when it shows up in the state database.
Gilchrist said a new Web-based system the state plans to implement next year will provide updates that will make the registration information law enforcement has access to more timely and accurate.
“That information should be updated real-time, so we’re excited about that,” Gilchrist said.
Cory said all complaints of racial profiling made to Lawrence police are investigated thoroughly and then sent to the department’s citizen review board, which was established after a 2005 state law required Kansas law enforcement agencies to file annual reports of complaints stemming from officers pulling someone over because of their race.
During the last four years, Lawrence police have received four racial profiling complaints, all of which were determined to be unfounded.
“It’s a practice we don’t tolerate in this department,” Cory said.