Wichita State racial profiling study to be discussed at civil rights conference

07/23/2014 6:55 AM

07/24/2014 7:58 AM

A racial-profiling study by Wichita State University is among the topics that will be discussed at a conference hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in August.

The Fourth Annual Statewide Civil Rights Symposium will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 13 at WSU’s Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th St. North. Although the conference is free and open to the public, those attending must enroll, the office says. Registration forms are online at the U.S. Attorney’s website: www.justice.gov/usao/ks. The event is expected to draw civil rights advocates and law enforcement representatives from across Kansas, the office says.

According to the office, topics besides racial profiling that will be discussed include: A look at the federal Community Relations Service; it provides mediation, facilitation and training on civil rights issues. An FBI presentation on hate crimes. A panel discussion on civil rights moderated by U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.

Michael Birzer, director of WSU’s School of Community Affairs, will talk about racial profiling.

A WSU study requested by the city found that Wichita police ticketed black motorists at disproportionately higher rates than white motorists, The Eagle has reported. Although African-Americans made up only 11 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 22 percent of the people given traffic citations in the six months from November 2012 through April 2013.Whites were underrepresented, accounting for 75 percent of the population but only 60 percent of the tickets.

According to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “Grissom said he looks forward to a frank discussion about what the results of the study mean and how law enforcement can work more cooperatively with the community.”

Grissom was quoted: “Protecting public safety and protecting civil rights are compatible goals.”

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