Starting tomorrow, police in Illinois will start reporting the race of every person they stop for a traffic violation. The Chicago Sun-Times says officials are encouraging officers not to react by making fewer traffic stops than normal. Some Chicago officers told the Sun-Times the additional paperwork will prompt them to make fewer stops. Two suburban departments that have been reporting such data to the U.S. Justice Department for several years report decreases in traffic citations.
In a videotaped message to Chicago officers, First Deputy Supt. Dana Starks encouraged officers to keep making stops because they keep the roads safe and often lead to confiscation of drugs and guns. Starks said community leaders have voiced fears that the new law will lead to “de-policing.”
In Chicago, officers will report the name, address, gender, and race of everyone they stop for a traffic violation. The Illinois Department of Transportation will analyze the information and report its findings every July for five years. Illinois State Police troopers are ready to collect the new information, said Master Sgt. Rick Hector. “The public will notice a minimal effect on the time a traffic stop takes,” he said.
Chicago police, which issued 456,000 traffic tickets last year, and the state police, which issued 493,000 citations, do not expect those numbers to fall because of the new requirement.
North suburban Mt. Prospect — which agreed about three years ago to start reporting such race data on traffic stops to the U.S. Justice Department after accusations of profiling Hispanic drivers –saw a “fall off” in ticket-writing. “There was a significant drop at first,” police Chief Richard Eddington said. “As time has gone by, we have begun to approach the number of stops we made prior to the DOJ investigation.”