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Bill to collect racial profiling data passes House committee

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

A bill that would allow the state Attorney General’s office to collect information on racial profiling passed its committee today.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, would require officers to record the race of any person they pulled over in any traffic stop.  Smitherman, who says he has been racially profiled, said the bill would help to identify those officers who still practice racial profiling.

Under current law, law enforcement is only required to collect racial data in arrests or citations.

On the committee, concerns that the bill would add a burden unto officers in the field was the main vein of opposition. Last week, a public hearing about the bill also had law enforcement officials make similar arguments.

The public hearing also had African-Americans on the committee share their own experiences of being racially profiled in Alabama. Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, said she worried every time her teenage son left her house that he would not come back.

Coleman, a supporter of the proposal, expressed frustration with her fellow committee members on Wednesday on what she saw as filibuster tactics to delay a vote on the bill.

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The bill passed with overwhelming support from the Senate last month, and it will now go before the House for their consideration.

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