Illinois Collects Data On Traffic Stops, But The Law Is Set to Expire This Year

Jan 22, 2019

A 2004 Illinois law requiring officer documentation of every traffic stop is set to phase out this summer.  The data, which includes the driver’s race and outcome of each stop, has helped law enforcement agencies study deficiencies in their practices.

Rachel Murphy, staff attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, said the law -- the Illinois Traffic and Pedestrian Stop Statistical Study Act -- serves as a transparency tool for the public. “It really gives us a broader picture of all police interaction, which allow each law enforcement agency to really build that trust with their community when they can show what they’re doing, and either justify it or show that they’re committed to making improvements.” 

Murphy and the ACLU of Illinois recently analyzed some of this data and found Black and Latino drivers across the state are stopped at significantly higher rates than white drivers. 

The ACLU of Illinois and several organizations are calling on the General Assembly to help keep the law in place. “It’s really important that this session, Illinois lawmakers actually pass the either permanent collection of this data, or that they extend this law for another several years,” Murphy said. 

 The measure was spearheaded over a decade ago by then-state Sen. Barack Obama in response to a widespread problem of racial profiling. The idea was to study where racial disparities occurred and find ways to address the issue.