The City of Urbana, Illinois recently created a task force in an effort to explore ways to address the ongoing racial disparity in traffic data, reported each year to the State Department of Transportation.
The issue of racial profiling is one of the highest priorities for the ACLU of Illinois. In 2002, the ACLU supported legislation, introduced by then state senator Barack Obama, which mandated the Department of Transportation to collect data about the race and ethnicity of every motorist stopped by police. The data indicates that race is often the determining factor as to whether or not a driver is pulled over not only in towns throughout central Illinois, but across the state. The Urbana task force hopes that in-depth analysis of the state’s numbers on police traffic stops will bring the city and its police department closer to correcting the problem. The News-Gazette reports that other central Illinois towns, with similarly skewed numbers showing minorities are more likely to be stopped for traffic violations, are not ready to acknowledge that the numbers reflect racial profiling. However, Stephen Portnoy, ACLU Champaign County chapter president and professor emeritus of statistics at the University of Illinois, maintains:
"It's clearly a problem.“ ACLU members "feel that the discrepancy that is indicated clearly shows racial profiling," he said.