It's something people have been requesting for nine years. Now, they'll be breaking down traffic stop information from IDOT and hopefully answering a lot of questions.
Durl Curz says the phrase "driving while black" is alive and well. After looking at data from Urbana, he says there's only one question: "Why is only one racial driving group stopped at a rate twice as high as you would expect?"
IDOT started collecting data in 2004 when then-Senator Barack Obama pushed for legislation. It breaks down the number of drivers, by race, who are pulled over throughout the state.
"It was clear that there are racial disparities, not just in Urbana, but most of East Central Illinois. I do not think the Urbana Police Department is the problem. The problem is, this is a historical sort of policing that's become normalized. Police departments tend to reflect the values of the community."
Several groups approached the city council asking for a committee to study the city's data, and, if there is a disparity, figure out ways to stop it. This week, Mayor Laurel Prussing appointed what she calls a "diverse group of ten people" to do the job.
"The proper way is that the appointments are made by the mayor and approved by city council and I made an effort to appoint people who reflect the entire community, not just members of certain organizations."
But, Cruz says, while he's happy the issue is finally being looked into, there's one major concern.
"I am kind of proud of the city taking on the responsibility and getting to this point. But, I'm a little disappointed that everyone on the committee isn't an Urbana resident."
There will be eleven people total on the committee; six are minorities. Mayor Prussing says she will choose the last person at the next meeting and would like to see it filled by an African-American woman from Urbana.
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