January 21, 2011

Bill seeks to extend racial reporting of traffic stops

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By Abby Rogers
Abby@MarylandReporter.com

Sen. Lisa Gladden wants to renew race-based reporting on Maryland’s traffic stops, but Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a fellow member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said it would create more work for law enforcement for no reason.

The bill would continue the reporting statute that went into effect nine years ago, “when race-based traffic stops was a major issue across the state,” Gladden, a Democrat from Baltimore City, told the committee Thursday. The statute expired last year.

Gladden’s bill would require officers to record certain information about each traffic stop they conduct. According to the bill, information includes the date, time and location of the stop; whether a search was conducted and whether a warning, citation or repair order was issued as a result of the stop — all things that were required in the past statute.

traffic stop

Photo by Chris Yarzab.

“Today we come before you, pretty much asking that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Gladden said. There are only two new parts to this bill, she said. Officers now have to record information from license plate scanners and the data will be kept in a different location.

Jacobs, a Harford County Republican, asked, “Why is there need to shine additional light? They’re doing a lot already and I don’t know what more they could do since we’re already curbing the problem.”

New officers are receiving training about race-based traffic stops during training, and law enforcement is already required to record all of this information, Jacobs said. Since some officers don’t have laptops in their cars with which to record this data, they have to return to the station to record the information after every stop, which is just taking officers off the street, Jacobs said after the meeting.

Melissa Goemann, legislative director for the ACLU of Maryland, said she thinks Maryland is the “vanguard” of states to take action against racial problem and she recommended that the results of the data be broken down by region, something that isn’t already being done. However, Goemann said she has not seen a comprehensive analysis of the data collected while the statute was in effect, just the yearly analysis.

“Nobody’s evaluated the data that we’ve done for 10 years?” asked Sen. Joseph Getty, R-Carroll.

“Nothing over time,” Goemann replied.

After the meeting, Jacobs questioned why those involved in supporting the bill haven’t studied the statute’s data, saying they are supposed to know its results.

  • Anonymous

    How is it taking an officer off the street? Don’t they have go to office to check in daily? How hard is it to apply a check mark?