Police: racial profiling rare

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

In the wake of a recent decision by the Alabama public safety director to install a formal policy against racial profiling by its state troopers, the city of Selma is about to unveil its own revised plan aimed at thwarting such potential occurrences.

According to Selma Assistant Police Chief Robert M. Jacobs, the city has been revising its policy since a Dec. 10, 2001, Selma City Council decision mandating the review. Selma City Attorney Jimmy Nunn is currently examining the document.

By Selma Police Department accounts, instances of racial profiling are rare in the city &045;&045; a civil suit in the past few years the only blotch on what has been a clean record.

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Police department officials point to a nearly 50/50 percent mix of African-American and Caucasian police officers as instrumental in the department’s even-handed approach to traffic violations.

Lt. David Evans, a police department public information officer, notes the mix acts as a sort of checks-and-balances system for the department.

Traffic stops are based on violations of the law &045;&045; nothing more, Evans stresses.

Officers are required to fill out detailed &uot;traffic stop logs&uot; that include such information as racial group, sex, reason for contact and enforcement action. If the logs begin to look fishy, department officials are called in to review traffic-stop patterns.

Those possibilities are remote, though, Jacobs concludes &045;&045; especially with officers who are routinely involved in each other’s lives.