The ACLU of Southern California applauds the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for adopting the Burke-Yaroslavsky motion calling on the Sheriff and the Office of Public Safety to report back to the board on the cost and feasibility of tracking the race of motorists stopped for traffic infractions. The motion is an important first step in determining if Sheriff's deputies are engaging in racial profiling.
Last October, the ACLU launched a statewide hotline to collect the stories of those who believe they were stopped for no reason other than the color of their skin. To date, we have heard from more than 2,500 motorists. Over 70% of the callers are from Southern California, underscoring the public's perception that racial profiling indeed is taking place in Los Angeles County. It is imperative that we find out - once and for all - if race is a primary factor in traffic stops, and if it is, to put an immediate end to this discriminatory and unconstitutional practice.
The county - and indeed the city - is long overdue in following the lead of police chiefs in the other five largest law enforcement agencies in California. Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, and the CHP all voluntarily collect data on the race of motorists stopped by their officers. The message is clear: law enforcement personnel everywhere are on notice that racially-based traffic stops will not be tolerated.