Bill would require racial profiling ban in Tennessee

Bill would require racial profiling ban in Tennessee

December 11th, 2014 by Associated Press in Politics State

NASHVILLE — All of Tennessee's law enforcement agencies would have to adopt written policies to ban racial profiling, under legislation introduced in the General Assembly.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown and Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis.

Kelsey said in a release Thursday that the measure comes in response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, and the demonstrations that have followed a grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson.

"Whether you agree with the decision of Ferguson or not, we should all agree that racial profiling has no place in law enforcement in our state," Kelsey said.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the proposal.

Previous efforts to require racial profiling policies have fallen short in the Legislature over the years. Lawmakers in 2005 ordered a comptroller's study on the role of ethnicity in traffic stops by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

That study released two years later found that troopers were more likely to stop, search and arrest Hispanic drivers than whites or blacks.

The review of nearly 240,000 traffic stops made by the THP in 2006, showed that about nine in 10 drivers pulled over received citations. One of every 19 Hispanic drivers who were pulled over was arrested, compared with one of every 32 black drivers and one in 49 whites, according to the study.

The THP's commander at the time, Mike Walker, said in response to the study that troopers don't know until they stop a driver what that driver's ethnicity is, and that the statistics might have been skewed because they are based on a percentage of licensed drivers, and Hispanics who are in the country illegally don't have driving permits.

The comptroller's office said Thursday that it has not conducted any more recent studies on the subject.


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