Officers in Minneapolis will now record the race and gender of the people they stop in an effort to be more transparent.
The Minneapolis Police Department announced this move Thursday, saying it has added a mechanism to squad car computers that require officers to enter demographic information of the person involved in the stop before the officer can clear the call, according to a news release.
Police will be required to do this in a variety of instances, including:
- Suspicious vehicle stops
- Suspicious person stops
- Traffic stops
- Truancy calls
- Curfew calls
- Attempted pick-ups of people wanted for criminal activity
And the information they'll have to record doesn't just include race and gender (or gender non-conforming), they'll also have to take note of the reason for the stop, whether they conducted a search, and the demographic information a 911 caller provided.
Then every quarter, the police department will analyze and then publicly release the data, Chief Janeé Harteau said in the news release, adding:
"The goal is to provide more information and context to data sets that community members may be interested in. Capturing this information will not only increase our department’s procedural justice efforts, we hope it will further increase and promote trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve."
The police department decided to do this after having conversations with community and police groups, including: the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, the Chief’s Citizens Advisory Council and the Minneapolis Police Federation.
Not all agencies collect this kind of data
The Minneapolis Police Department's move comes at a time where activists in Minnesota and across the country are calling for change, saying African Americans and other minorities are unfairly targeted by police.
And several studies – both nationally and in Minnesota – show that's the case. Even President Barack Obama has said minorities are more likely to be pulled over and arrested than their white counterparts.
Despite this, not every state requires officers to collect data on a person's race during a stop, The Marshall Project reported in July. That's because there's a "patchwork of laws and regulations across the country."
Stanford University's Law, Order & Algorithms project looked into this, and found 31 states routinely collect data on race (based on officer perception). But the way each state collects the data isn't the same, and many states don't analyze the data or make it public, the Marshall Project says.
The number of states that do collect this data has grown, though. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported in 2004 that 22 state police agencies required officers to collect data on race for all traffic stops. That's up from the nine agencies that required it in 1999.
As of 2004 (the most recent DOJ report available), Minnesota did not require state police agencies to take down the race of a driver in any type of traffic stop. Although Minnesota does have a racial profiling law, it doesn't appear the state has a law that requires police to record a person's race who is involved in a traffic stop.
BringMeTheNews has reached out to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for information on how many police departments in Minnesota record the race of a person police encounter.