VALPARAISO | The city's Advisory Human Relations Council is exploring how to better track the number of minorities police are pulling over for traffic stops.
Council Chair Ivan Bodensteiner raised the issue at the council's regular monthly meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
He said when officers issue a traffic or warning citation, they are required to record the name, address, gender and their subjective determination of the race of the person stopped.
There are 22 states, not including Indiana, that also require officers to record such information if no traffic or warning citation is issued.
Bodensteiner said he met with Valparaiso Police Chief Michael Brickner to consider having local officers record the data when no citation is issued.
“My point in raising this is because to some extent this (racial profiling) is a perception issue,” Bodensteiner said.
Bodensteiner suggested recording the information for four months, and if there are a disproportionately large number of traffic stops being made on minorities, then Brickner would address it with his officers.
Bodensteiner said he also would like to get the county involved and plans to discuss the idea with Porter County Sheriff David Lain.
In other news, the council is preparing to circulate a “welcome statement” for Valparaiso residents to sign. The statement was created in response to incidents of racially derogatory comments aimed at minorities in the city.
Valparaiso residents who sign the document pledge their opposition to discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.
It has been signed by Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler, Ivy Tech Chancellor Thomas Coley and Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Michael Berta.
Council member Jacob Williams agreed to distribute the statement to clergy of the religious institutions in the city and ask them to make it available to their parishoners for their signatures.
The statement also could be made available to new employees with the Valparaiso Community Schools, said Assistant Superintendent Jim Doane.
It also will be posted on the city's website.