Tags: Immigration | forest service | policy | race | data | traffic stops

New Forest Service Policy Requires Officers to Collect Race Data

Image: New Forest Service Policy Requires Officers to Collect Race Data
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Chris Dyer walks through a forested area near Forsk, Wah., March 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) 

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Oct 2015 11:06 AM

A new Forest Service anti-racial profiling policy reportedly requires all federal law enforcement officials to collect "perceived" ethnicity data at traffic stops in the wake of a deadly 2011 incident.

USA Today reports the dictate stems from a civil rights ruling in favor of a Guatamalan woman and an illegal Mexican immigrant partner who were racially targeted in the Olympic National Forest in Washington. 

According to USA Today, the pair were harvesting an evergreen plant used in flower arrangements near Forks, Wash., when they were stopped by a Forest Service officer, who then called the Border Patrol for backup.

The practice is now banned because, though ostensibly used for translation services, it often resulted in detention and deportation, the newspaper reports.

In the 2011 case, illegal Mexican immigrant Benjamin Roldan Salinas fled when Border Patrol agents arrived; his body was discovered in a river a month later.

The new policy is "a step to ensure we consistently treat all people with respect and equity they deserve," Denise Ottaviano, a Forest Service spokeswoman, tells the newspaper.

But law enforcement union officials aren't so sure. According to Matt Valenta, president of a local law enforcement bargaining unit, members fear the information could be used to make employment decisions about union members.

The Forest Service policy comes days after California Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a new law requiring police to collect race and ethnicity data at stops, a measure supported by the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Still, racial data collection has had only mixed success.

"Is it a useful tool to stop discrimination from happening? Not really, officers will do what they are directed to do," Charles Epp, a professor at Kansas University, tells USA Today, adding, however: "But by comparing stop data across officers with the same assignments, you can see if someone stands out and can start a conversation. More data is a good thing."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A new Forest Service anti-racial profiling policy reportedly requires all federal law enforcement officials to collect "perceived" ethnicity data at traffic stops in the wake of a deadly 2011 incident.
forest service, policy, race, data, traffic stops
322
2015-06-07
Wednesday, 07 Oct 2015 11:06 AM
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