Newsbrief: Massachusetts Cops Slow to Act on Racial Profiling Law 1/10/03

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Two years after Massachusetts passed a law requiring all law enforcement agencies record racial information on traffic citations to track racial profiling, some agencies are failing to do so and the state has done little about it, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Now incoming Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn has told the AP he will create a task force on racial profiling and will address noncompliance with reporting requirements by sending monthly statistics to law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be sending the numbers to him.

The renewed attention to racial profiling comes in the wake of a recent Boston Globe analysis of some 750,000 tickets issued by police in the last two years. The Globe's review found that blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be searched during routine traffic stops, even though white drivers were more often charged with drug offenses as a result of searches.

Flynn told the AP that some police departments are not recording racial data required by the 2000 racial profiling law. He said he would address that by sending each department monthly statistics on their traffic stops. He did not explain how doing so would compel departments to submit the required data. Nor did Flynn evince much interest in having police collect and record more racial information from traffic stops. Under current regulations, officers do not record information from traffic stops where no citations were issued. Recording that information would add to the paperwork burden, Flynn said.

Flynn also cautioned against quick interpretations of the Boston Globe study, adding that he is awaiting the results of a state-commissioned study by Northeastern University. "We can't discount these statistics, but we can't afford to be simplistic," Flynn said. "I'm in favor of doing right by the law as it's written right now." While the newly hired former chief of police for Arlington County, VA, warned against police "backing off," he also acknowledged that concerns over racially unequal policing run deep. "We can ill-afford cops backing off protecting those communities because they're afraid they're going to get branded because their data didn't break down right," said Flynn. "But this is a community conversation that has to happen everywhere because that trust and confidence in the police is so important."

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Issue #271, 1/10/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Mario Menéndez, Publisher of !Por Esto!, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | The Road to Mérida: Dr. Jaime Malamud-Goti, former Argentine Solicitor General | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Canada Cannabis Conundrum Continued: Government Will Appeal Ontario Ruling, Prosecutors to Put Possession Cases on Hold | Newsbrief: Eyeing Stiffer Meth Penalties in West Virginia | Newsbrief: First Local Salvia Divinorum Ordinance Proposed | Newsbrief: Huffington SUV-Terrorism Ad Parodies Drug Czar's Drug-Terrorism Campaign | Newsbrief: Corrupt Cops of the Week | Newsbrief: Ontario Court Clears Tokin' Motorist of DWI Charge | Newsbrief: Massachusetts Cops Slow to Act on Racial Profiling Law | Newsbrief: New Jersey Seeks to Delay Ban on Asset Forfeiture, Will Appeal Ruling | Newsbrief: Federal Court Ruling on No-Knock Search Raises Questions About Standard Procedure in Kansas City | Web Scan: Maia Szalavitz in Slate, GAO on Colombia Coca, Globe and Mail on Ontario Marijuana Ruling | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar
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