Bill aims to curb racial profiling by law enforcement

 Vacation Watch program allows police to keep an eye on your home in your absence.
Vacation Watch program allows police to keep an eye on your home in your absence. (WOWT)
Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 6:24 PM CST
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A bill designed to prevent and stop racial profiling by law enforcement is so far earning unanimous support in the Nebraska Legislature.

The bill would require law enforcement agencies across the state to provide two hours of anti-bias training, an added step to what officers at OPD are already doing.

"Maybe an individual doesn't like a brown car, and they had a bad experience growing up in a brown car. Those little nuances we draw out in the training so everybody is policing the same way. Fair and impartially." Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez explained.

Nebraska already bans racial profiling by law enforcement but Senator Ernie Chambers doesn't think that's doing enough. His bill would require every officer to take training every year to combat apparent racism.

"Typically our training lasted an hour, roughly an hour, every year. And this will add another hour every year." Gonzalez said.

Lawmakers today said there is a problem in our state with officers pulling over someone based on their race, agreeing with Chambers that this bill is just the beginning.

Senator Tony Vargas sent us a statement about why he's offering his support: “Addressing issues of implicit bias on the front end with intentional discussion and training is a critically important and proactive way to work towards more positive interactions and relationships between our law enforcement officers and members of our communities.”

"People expect professionalism and they expect us to treat everyone the same, regardless of your race, your gender, your creed, your sexual orientation," Gonzalez tells 6 News.

Accredited police departments, like OPD, already collect data to track the race of people being pulled over and take part in anti-bias training annually. To meet new standards, they would have to increase their training force.

"In two months we're going to be sending two more command officers, sergeants, and three more officers to implicit bias training a train to trainer course," Gonzalez said. "So that will give us a total of seven instructors."

Law enforcement agencies will be required to submit their new training plans to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.

LB924 is the bill to look for, it passed the first of three rounds today. It would also allow the state to withhold funding from a law enforcement agency if it does not collect the required vehicle stop demographic data.

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