Az's Senate Democratic leader offers plan to bar racial profiling
Measure would require police training to recognize profiling
PHOENIX — Taking a swipe at Arizona’s controversial law on illegal immigration, the state Senate’s top Democrat wants to ban racial profiling by law enforcement.
SB 1071, introduced by Sen. David Schapira, D-Tempe, also would require that law enforcement officers be trained to recognize racial profiling.
“Certainly I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of it happening here in Arizona,” said Schapira, the Senate minority leader. “And I think it is a practice that we all hope wouldn’t happen.”
Schapira said that while his bill doesn’t mention SB 1070 it addresses concerns about the law.
Key provisions of SB 1070 have been put on hold by judges. One would require law enforcement officers, when possible, to check immigration status if they develop reasonable suspicion of someone with whom they have lawful contact.
Supporters contend that the law wouldn’t require or encourage racial profiling.
Schapira, who is exploring a run for Congress, said he wants state law to be “crystal clear” that Arizona doesn’t condone racial profiling.
Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, who signed on as a co-sponsor of Schapira’s bill, said this is a step toward dismantling SB 1070.
“It continues to divide this state and we need to start doing stuff to get rid of it,” he said.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said taking shots at SB 1070 overlooks the fact that the law addresses the public’s concerns.
“SB 1070 was a wildly popular bill among all demographic groups – among almost all demographic groups – and even across party lines,” he said. “So for them to attempt to reverse it shows how out of touch they are with public sentiment.”
However, Schapira said he will press on. This is the second year he has tried to introduced similar legislation.
“I don’t know that this year will be entirely different,” he said. “But I’m going to continue to push it because I know it’s the right thing to do.”