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ACLU of Illinois Report Shows Racial Profiling by Police Officers in Vehicle Searches

Posted on in BGL Law

racial profiling by Illinois policeGetting pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful event. There is the unknown of what—if any—traffic laws you may have violated and the unknown of whether the officer will be friendly or hostile. Traffic stops can be all the more disconcerting if you are pulled over knowing that you did not violate any traffic laws and an officer searches your vehicle.

Racial Bias When Searching a Vehicle?

According to a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, police officers are more likely to stop and search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers. The ACLU of Illinois found that “there is a dramatic racial disparity in police use of so-called ‘consent searches' and dog sniff searches during routine traffic stops.”

A consent search is when a police officer asks a motorist to search a vehicle during a routine traffic stop. The ACLU of Illinois found, through an analysis of a decade of government data about traffic searches, Illinois State Police Troopers are more than 2.5 times more likely to perform a consent search on a Hispanic motorist compared to a white motorist, even though a white motorist is more than 2.5 times more likely to be found with contraband.

The ACLU of Illinois believes a consent search is often based on an officer's “hunch” and is not “truly voluntary” because a motorist may feel coerced. According to a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police, however, police officers must have a “reasonable suspicion” of illegal activity in order to request searches to “to prevent illegal drugs, shootings, and other criminal activity.”

A dog sniff search occurs when an officer believes that a motorist is carrying drugs in the vehicle, and the dog is used to alert the officer that a car may need to be searched for drugs.

The ACLU of Illinois believes that these searches are often improperly based on an officer's hunch and can be intimidating for a motorist. Further, according to the ACLU of Illinois's report, dog sniff searches are often unreliable. The report found that black motorists are more than 55 percent more likely than white motorists to be subjected to dog sniff searches.

The ACLU of Illinois believes that the Illinois General Assembly should enact legislation to ban consent searches. It also believes that dog sniff searches should be further regulated and limited by requiring police officers to have a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity before using a dog sniff search.

Let Our Illinois Criminal Lawyers Help You Today

If you believe that that you or someone you know has been improperly charged with a traffic violation or been subjected to an inappropriate stop and search by the police, our experienced attorneys may be able to help. We serve McHenry County and the Greater Chicago area. Please contact an experienced Crystal Lake criminal law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC for your criminal law needs.

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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