02/07/2001

Racial profiling bill includes U. Minnesota police
[Minneapolis, MN]

By Liz Kohman, Minnesota Daily
February 5, 2001

(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A bill mandating the statewide collection of racial profiling data during traffic stops was introduced in the Minnesota Senate last week.

The bill would require an independent analyst to examine data collected by all Minnesota police agencies, including the University of Minnesota police department, during a two-year period.

Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, the bill's chief author, said the legislation is "a way to see what, if anything, is going on."

"We have people saying there are no problems (with racial profiling) in Minnesota, and we have people saying there are big problems in Minnesota, but it's all based on anecdote," Ranum said.

The data collection would allow police departments to focus on solutions to racial profiling and provide law enforcement training on eliminating its practice, if it is found to exist.

University Police Chief George Aylward said he doesn't think legislation mandating statewide data collection is necessary. He said the problem of racial profiling should be handled by each individual police department.

"I am quite certain we don't have a problem," Aylward said. However, he said he is not opposed to collecting the data to prove his department doesn't racially profile.

"We practice ethical policing," Aylward said, "And that, by definition, means that we don't racially profile people."

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, said he supports the legislation.

"You cannot manage what you cannot measure," he said.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments announced the preliminary findings of their voluntary racial profiling studies in January.

The bill is based on the findings of a task force created by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

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