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New Racial Profiling Bill

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

A last minute proposal in the Texas legislature could mean a heavier load on local law enforcement.

The Bill would create a new government institution to analyze racial profiling statistics.

But some officials aren't sure more numbers will solve the problem.

Like clockwork, the Brazos County Sheriff's office files racial profiling statistics every year.

And since the law began requiring the information, Brazos County's reported no problems.

But now Sheriff Chris Kirk says there is a big problem with how lawmakers want to change the way the data is analyzed.

"I'd have to ask to what extent are we headed," questions Kirk.

Senate Bill 1503 would require Kirk to collect 25 times the amount of statistics the department currently reports and instead of compiling his own analysis, the Institute of Race, Crime and Justice would be created to do it for him.

"I think the analysis at this level only opens up a can of worms. Opens us up to lawsuits potentially and I really hang my hat on the fact that no one's walked through my front door and complained that we're racially profiling," says Kirk.

The complaint process was set up by the original law and so were required cameras in patrol units.

But Sheriff Kirk says the new bill's level of data collection relies on numbers that could be manipulated.

"Data collection I'm concerned about and certainly this new bill extends data collection into a higher number of data points. I'm concerned of the extention of data to this level," says Kirk.

But Mike Flores of the League of United Latin American Citizens is not concerned.

"Anytime you get more information it will help both sides of the parties so they'll understand and be able to look at the item itself of racial profiling and make sure that's not happening," says Flores.

Flores says although there have been no complaints, immigrants are not factored into the racial profiling statistics.

"You can go down and talk to any immigrant in the street and they'll tell you yes there is racial profiling," says Flores.

But Kirk says until data is more reliable, using more of it is not a good idea.


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