Police begin issuing "stop receipts" following searches

By Lily Mashayek

Law enforcement agencies are now required to issue “stop receipts”, also known as stop cards, as part of new statewide legislation called the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act, which took effect early this year.

The “stop receipts” are issued to pedestrians who are searched or frisked by police and include the officer’s name and badge number, as well as the reason for the stop.

They are to only be issued under specific circumstances, including when a pedestrian is stopped in a public area, and are generally issued at the end of the encounter. However, if a pedestrian is only questioned or has a conversation with an officer, or the situation is urgent — such as when a violent crime has occurred, or when talking to victims or witnesses of a crime — police may not issue a receipt.

Dan Walsh, Champaign County Sheriff, said that almost every time a pedestrian is searched or frisked, they will receive a receipt.

“Unless it’s a real active serious crime, most of the time the answer is yes,” Walsh said.

In a press release sent out Wednesday, Walsh said that this is so the relationship between the community and the police can continue to be a friendly and cooperative one.

“Most citizens who deal with the police will not receive a receipt,” Walsh said. “It is important that people still feel open and encouraged to speak with police and report suspicious activity. We rely on our community members’ active participation so we can serve them in the best way possible.”

After a stop receipt is issued, a corresponding information sheet will then be sent to the Department of Transportation, who will keep track of all collected pedestrian stop data. The data sent to there will be more detailed — including whether any contraband was found and the location, race and gender of the person stopped.

Due to the newness of the law, the policies regarding who does and does not receive a receipt may be subject to change.

“Champaign County law enforcement agencies have been working very closely since the legislation was approved to ensure our practices are largely consistent,” Jeff Christensen, University of Illinois Police Chief, said in the release. “Because the Champaign-Urbana community is so closely-knit, that cooperation is important so our citizens know what to expect when they are dealing with the police, no matter what jurisdiction they might be in.”

Walsh said that it is likely the Department of Transportation may release a yearly statistics report outlining possible trends in who police search and frisk in their annual report.

The stop cards are being used by local law enforcement agencies, including the Champaign Police, Urbana Police, and the University of Illinois Police. 

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