Quinn: No Plans To Halt Vehicle Searches
Governor Pat Quinn doesn't have plans to unilaterally halt consent searches by the state police he oversees. But Quinn said he's not dimissing a report that indicates racial profiling is still concern in traffic stops.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union released results of a study showing minorities are more often victims of the police searches than white motorists.
Quinn said during a stop in Bloomington last week that he's willing to consider the report and share it with state police and all law enforcement in Illinois.
"I'm going to make it available to our state police and to all of those in law enforcement in the state of Illinois and make sure we do things right," he said. "I think we always want to be careful with respect to respecting everyone's rights, making sure everything is done properly and under our constitution."
Quinn didn't directly answer a question about whether he would order State Police Director Hiram Grau to halt trooper consent searches.
The ACLU report found that, across Illinois, African-American and Latino drivers are asked by police for consent to search their vehicles at nearly twice the rate of white drivers.
But white drivers are 50 to 60-percent more likely to have contraband discovered during a search.
During a stop in Normal, Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said he wasn't aware of the study.
A new study shows race could play a role in traffic stops across Illinois.
An Illinois Department of Transportation and University of Illinois at Chicago study of traffic stops in 2010 found that minorities are more likely to be cited or to be asked for a consent search than white drivers. The research is part of a state rule that requires police to record the details of traffic stops and report them to the DOT. For the last few years, the research has revealed similar results.
Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the ACLU wants state police to get rid of consent searches entirely. A consent search is when an officer asks the driver if he or she can search the vehicle. Unlike other searches done by police, a vehicle search can be done without a warrant. All the officer needs is consent from the driver.
"Given the danger of conscious or unconscious bias being in play, we think that consent searches always will yield a disparate impact against minority motorists. It simply is too subjective a technique to apply," Schwartz said.
In June of this year, the ACLU of Illinois filed a complaint to the United States Department of Justice. According to Schwartz, the ACLU wants there to be a federal investigation into Illinois State Police practices, and for the US DOJ to issue a ban on the use of consent searches.
Schwartz said the new study confirms the need for such action.
"We think that it's a technique that can't be cured or reformed," he said.
Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police Department, said they are in the process of reviewing the raw data and expect an internal review to be completed within the coming weeks. She said that no decision had been made to cease consent searches.