Senate committee merges two bills on racial profiling

The Kansas Senate’s federal and state affairs committee this morning passed a bill on racial profiling by law enforcement that merged two proposed bills.

The bill would make it unlawful for a law enforcement officer to stop someone for racial or other bias-based policing. State law had focused only on racial profiling, but the new bill adds “other bias-based policing” to include race, ethnicity, national origin, socio-economic status, gender or religion.

Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, said she wished police would immediately tell people why they are stopping them when they first ask for their driver’s license and insurance information. She said it can be unsettling turning over a driver’s license and watching an officer go back to his or her car without knowing why you are being stopped. Faust-Goudeau, who is black, said she is especially careful while driving in rural areas of the state to avoid being stopped.

The bill requires that law enforcement go through training and collect data on traffic stops.

Some senators expressed concern that the reporting requirements would be burdensome on law enforcement officers making stops for legitimate reasons.

Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, who is black, said he thinks racial profiling is more of a problem in urban areas of the state than rural areas. He said he has been stopped more in Johnson and Leavenworth counties more than other places.