Urbana police discusses racial profiling at City Council

By Katie Richardson

At Monday night’s Urbana City Council meeting, Police Chief Eddie Adair defended the Urbana City Police against accusations that the police force may be racially profiling Urbana residents.

Adair addressed the council at the request of councilwoman Danielle Chynoweth. Last week Chynoweth asked the police chief to come and answer questions regarding recent Illinois Department of Transportation reports. The IDOT report indicated that, although black drivers made up only 12.2 percent of all drivers in Urbana, they were stopped 34.5 percent of the time.

The police chief offered reasons for why he believed the percentage was so high. One reason, Adair said, was that police officers often do not know the race of the person they are stopping, especially when they are stopping people at night.

Adair resisted suggestions that the police had an unnecessary presence in many of Urbana’s neighborhoods.

“I have yet to encounter anyone who feels like Urbana police officers’ presence creates a siege mentality,” said Adair.

The council asked Adair to return next month to present more detailed data pertaining to the traffic stops.

Adair said he would try to obtain more information about the report, but noted that his staff is much smaller than other police staffs, such as the Champaign City Police.