News Local/State

Report: Bias Seen In Illinois Police Search Data


A new report finds signs of racial bias in data collected about police searches during traffic stops in Illinois, in a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

It suggests police are nearly twice as likely to ask blacks and Latino drivers to consent to vehicle searches during traffic stops than they are to ask whites.

But white drivers are 49 percent more likely than blacks to have contraband found during such a search and 56 percent more likely when compared to Latinos.

ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said the group wants lawmakers to ban the practice of consent searches, and for the governor to issue an executive order, calling a halt to state police consent searches until the legislature acts.

“When police find contraband in these searches, it is not some significant amount of drugs or cache of weapons they’re finding." he said.  "They’re finding a small amount of marijuana, or a marijuana pipe.  And frankly, those are not the kinds of things that are keeping us safer anyway.”

The analysis is based on figures reported by law enforcement agencies during 2013 under the Illinois Traffic Stop Statistical Study Act.

“There’s actually contraband more often found in the cars of white motorists in a search," said Yohnka.  "I think it’s something that is very troubling, and shows that we still have a long way to go.”

Adam Schwartz of the ACLU says the figures are "troubling'' and the situation "must be addressed.