For the second consecutive year, a Maine lawmaker has proposed legislation designed to combat racial profiling, by requiring all law enforcement agencies to document demographic data of the people they stop.
Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, called on the state to address issues of racial injustice and profiling in his testimony on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reports.
“We all know law enforcement officers to be hardworking men and women who protect and serve, even when their own lives are on the line,” Hickman said. “But when even one of their colleagues engages in discriminatory profiling tactics, whether it is conscious or subconscious, the resulting loss of confidence erodes the trust and integrity necessary to be effective in their roles.”
Some law enforcement representatives opposed Hickman’s original bill, claiming that it was unnecessary since bias-based stops don’t happen in Maine. Researchers have found disparities in the legal outcomes for non-white Mainers.
Maj. Christopher Grotton of the Maine State Police said Tuesday that while he is eager to improve procedures to benefit the community he is concerned about the logistics of asking demographic questions at a traffic stop.
“I think the process needs to be clear, because if there’s going to be a mandate that law enforcement accurately collect this data, we don’t want to indicate a person’s race based on an assumption in the middle of the night and later on, we’re wrong and someone’s offended,” Grotton said. “I think we all need to be prepared that that will be a sensitive topic.”