PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — KYW is reporting…Pennsylvania State Police are now collecting racial data and other information during traffic stops to identify potential patterns of racial bias in policing. This comes after the agency ended a similar data tracking program nearly ten years ago. A state representative says it’s a great first step. The state police will be tracking information including a driver’s (and passenger’s) age, gender, and race. They’ll also record the length of the traffic stop, whether they searched the vehicle, and the results of the search. Col. Robert Evanchick said in a press release, “Troopers take an oath to enforce the law ‘without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition,’ and this data collection effort is one way to show the public we are upholding that oath.” The information will be analyzed by University of Cincinnati researchers to determine possible racial disparities and recommend any necessary changes to state police policy.
A similar data reporting program ended after 2011. State Rep. Donna Bullock has been spearheading a number of related policies. “We learned that the state troopers weren’t doing any data collection,” said Bullock. “That became even more alarming to me to learn that the state troopers had stopped doing data collection for some time even after the previous data collection study had raised some flags about racial bias. The fact that they had stopped and no one knew was very disturbing.” She said data collection should be required by law and hopes it will set an example for other law enforcement agencies. “While this was a volunteer effort from PSP, I still think that we need to legislatively require that it be done,” suggested Bullock. “This is a pilot program, we wanna make sure this is something that doesn’t quietly disappear again.” The current program will run through the end of 2021.