Urbana Mayor presents appointments to Traffic Stop Data Task Force

By Eli Murray

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing presented her appointments to the Urbana Traffic Stop Data Task Force at the Urbana City Council meeting Monday.

The proposed composition of the UTSDTF includes 11 members — six men and five women. The appointees include four African-American members, one Hispanic member and one Asian member.

The task force arose after community members asked the council to address the 2012 IDOT Traffic Stop data report. Many community members felt the data supported the notion that there was discrimination being practiced by police departments across the state.

“My belief is that the problem can’t be addressed properly within the city. They need to involve the community to get a diverse perspective,” said Durl Kruse, a member of Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, in a previous interview.

Opponents of the notion that the data constituted evidence of police discrimination said that the study was inconclusive as-is. At a previous council meeting Charlie Smyth, Ward 1, said the data wasn’t reliable because it compared census data to traffic stop data and that people who are stopped in Urbana may not be residents of Urbana, and therefore, wouldn’t show up in census data.

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Nevertheless, the motion to create the task force was approved on Jan. 6, and applications to be considered for the task force were due at the end of February.

The appointments brought before council weren’t without scrutiny, however. Kruse voiced concerns that the task force as presented by Mayor Prussing had too much focus on University representation and representation outside of Urbana with only one member living in Urbana without connections to the city council or police department.

“(The task force) is not simply an academic exercise,” he said.

Prussing said she didn’t agree with Kruse and felt her appointments represented a diverse group beyond the University. She added that Urbana was tasked to create the task force for the area at-large, and that it is impossible to address Urbana without addressing the surrounding areas. 

Reflecting Kruse’s concerns and those of other members of the community who reached out to council members, the council voted to defer the appointments until the next city council meeting on March 31.

Eli can be reached at [email protected].