When two Lenexa, Ks., siblings, 17 and 11, were stopped for speeding, both were questioned by police and put in handcuffs. “They searched my 11 year old as if he were a grown man,” their mother wrote in a complaint to the state. “The only reason my children were treated as so is because WE ARE BLACK!!” Her racial profiling complaint was one of 592 made to Kansas law enforcement agencies and the Kansas Attorney General’s office in the past five years, reports the Kansas City Star. Like most cases, the complaint was not substantiated, a result critics say is not only hard to believe, but raises questions about the state’s nearly 20-year effort to combat racial profiling. Despite the passage of two laws to address the issue, the Star found Kansas’ system of tracking racial profiling complaints ineffective, opaque and deeply flawed, from incomplete data collection to redacted records to agencies simply not participating.
“In terms of actually creating transparency and accountability, you would be hard-pressed to create a more useless system,” said Micah Kubic of the American Civil Liberties Union. Even though the Kansas attorney general collects data from almost every law enforcement agency in the state, his office does not analyze the reports and no longer investigates complaints. Rep. J.R. Claeys, a conservative Republican and chairman of the transportation and public safety committee, said the attorney general’s office should analyze the reports and make those results available to the public. “So many things in Kansas government are not databased and they become transparency issues. … That is a common complaint across many agencies in the state,” Claeys said. “It seems we go out of our way to make things difficult.”