WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) — A northern Illinois sheriff's department has launched an internal probe following claims that deputies intentionally mislabeled the ethnicities of people involved in traffic stops to cover up racial profiling, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.
Police are required to properly record the races of those stopped so the state can see whether an agency is targeting minorities.
But a Tribune investigation suggested that deputies who stopped many Hispanic motorists labeled them as white. More than 1,000 people likely were mislabeled, and the department is reviewing 51 deputies, or about half of its road force, the newspaper reported.
Department attorney James Sotos told the newspaper that the sheriff 'is committed to making sure that there's not racial profiling going on.'
Sotos did not immediately return an Associated Press email or phone calls requesting comment.
The newspaper examined department, state and county data from 2004 through 2009. It says that the county's rate of minority stops appears average but would be comparatively high if mislabeling and underreporting were considered.
A former deputy who claims he was fired in 2008 for complaining about racial profiling told the Tribune that the newspaper's findings back up his allegations.
'Any good cop could see there was a problem,' Zane Seipler told the newspaper. 'It's not rocket science.'
Seipler has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Miguel Perez-Reyes was among the Hispanic motorists labeled as white in a department traffic report, the newspaper said. He was cited for running a stop sign in November 2008 and told the newspaper he had stopped but was ticketed anyway.
'I'm dark,' Perez-Reyes, a Kenosha, Wis., food processing supervisor, told the Tribune. 'I don't know how (they) said I'm not Hispanic.'
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