ALAN SUDERMAN Associated Press Writer
HELENA An American Indian lawmaker said he wants police officers to keep track of the skin color of the people they pull over. It’s a way to curb racial profiling in the state, said Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Rocky Boy. Though Montana enacted laws in 2003 preventing police from stopping people based on race, Windy Boy said the problem still exists. “Until society accepts the fact that racial profile discrimination is in existence in our society today, we’ll never get over this hurdle,” Windy Boy told the House Judiciary Committee Friday. After hearing proponents and opponents speak to Windy Boy’s bill, the committee voted to amend and approve the measure. It moves on to the House to be considered by the entire body. The amended bill would require all law enforcement agencies in Montana to establish an anti-profiling policy, periodically review that policy, and collect data to see if racial profiling was occurring. If the data revealed that an individual police officer was stopping a disproportionate number of minorities, the amended bill says that officer may have to undergo cultural-diversity training. Windy Boy’s original bill would have made it mandatory for every law enforcement agency to keep track of the race, age and gender of the driver in all cars stopped by police. It also mandated training for those caught using a driver’s race as a reason to pull someone over. Indians from across the state came to the hearing to speak in favor of the original bill. They said they are routinely discriminated against by police because of their race. “There’s two forms of DWI in Montana,” Annita Wolf Black said after the hearing. “One of them ... is driving while Indian.” Police chiefs from around the state lined up to speak in opposition to the original bill. They said that besides adding an onerous burden to their jobs, it simply wouldn’t work in curbing racial profiling. Rusty Wickman, chief of the Missoula Police Department, said stopping racial profiling required establishing and nurturing good relationships between Indian communities and the police. He added that requiring police officers to keep track of the skin color of all the people they pull over would only be “cumbersome and costly.” “Instead of building relationships, it will try to mandate those,” Wickman said. Windy Boy’s bill is House Bill 781.