Students, CBC Map Strategy to Combat Racial Profiling

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Students, CBC Map Strategy to Combat Racial Profiling

College students are joining an effort by the Congressional Black Caucus to combat racial profiling. The United States Student Association is putting its support behind legislation from Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., that would promote police accountability. Conyers' Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act was introduced in the current Congress, and he is likely to propose it again in 2001.

USSA, which represents college students in Washington, recently placed the legislation on its list of top priorities for the next Congress, says Corye Barbour, the organization's director of government relations. The issue, she says, is that law enforcement agencies are "putting people in prison who we could put in college."

While the bill places primary emphasis on local police departments, racial profiling is an issue for college and university police as well, she says. On many campuses, particularly large institutions, police officers are responsible for traffic stops and crime investigations.

Conyers says his bill is designed to combat recent high-profile incidents involving police in Los Angeles and New York, among other locations. "The catalogue of high-profile incidents of police misconduct grows with each passing day," the lawmaker says.

The bill is not a "knee-jerk response" to an incident, he adds. Instead, it would encourage police departments to adopt performancebased standards that include investigation of suspicious incidents and increased management and training for officers and their supervisors.

"We have been enthusiastic about supporting programs designed to get officers on the street," he says. "We must be just as willing to support programs designed to train and manage police after they get there. …