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Will stop data collection policies soon be nationwide?

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Traffic and pedestrian stops are routine events for police officers. And soon, complying with data collection policies during and after these stops will also become part of their daily beat.

Stop data collection legislation is rapidly gaining momentum — several states currently have stop policy data collection laws on the books and others are expected to pass similar legislation soon in response to social justice movements and the demand for transparency in policing. But the collection of stop data can be time-consuming and takes officers away from work of public safety. The copious amount of documentation needed to capture this information can also introduce human error if not completed in real-time.

So, how can law enforcement agencies comply with these important legislative initiatives in a way that is both effective and efficient? Automated digital tools may provide the answer.

The push for stop data collection policies is gaining steam

In 1999, North Carolina became the first state in the U.S. to enact a law requiring law enforcement agencies to collect data on all routine traffic stops. States like Illinois, New Jersey and Missouri have followed suit with stop data collection policies of their own.

However, California is leading the push with the enactment of Assembly Bill 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA). The goal of RIPA is to prevent racial profiling and bias in the already required stop data collection and submission process. AB 953 has the most comprehensive requirements in the nation and requires all local law enforcement agencies in California to collect perceived demographic and other detailed data regarding pedestrian and traffic stops.

Many of the state’s agencies are already obligated to collect and deliver this data. The balance of the agencies have until 2023 to provide this information to the state’s Department of Justice (DOJ) Stop Data Collection System (SDCS). Data collected can include the perceived race or ethnicity, gender and approximate age of the individual stopped, as well as information like the reason for the stop.

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