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In the news: between Oct. 5 - 12, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between October 5 - 12, 2015

Forest Service discrimination prompts tracking of stops - USA Today

An embarrassing episode of discrimination by the U.S. Forest Service in 2011 concluded this month with the introduction of a nationwide policy requiring officers to collect race data at traffic stops.

The new policy stems from a U.S. Department of Agriculture civil rights ruling in favor of a Guatemalan woman who argued she and a partner were racially targeted in 2011 in the Olympic National Forest, 140 miles west of Seattle. The two were harvesting salal, an evergreen plant used in flower arrangements near the town of Forks, Wash. When stopped, the Forest Service law enforcement officer called U.S. Border Patrol for backup — a then-routine practice that is now banned because it was done under the guise of translation, but often resulted in detention and ultimately deportation.

Benjamin Roldan Salinas, an illegal Mexican immigrant, was with the woman and fled when Border Patrol agents arrived. He jumped into a frigid, swollen river and was found dead almost a month later downstream.

Race data collected by police nationwide has shown mixed success producing reform, said Charles Epp, a professor at Kansas University who recently wrote a book on the topic.

“Is it a useful tool to stop discrimination from happening? Not really, officers will do what they are directed to do,” Epp said. “But by comparing stop data across officers with the same assignments, you can see if someone stands out and can start a conversation. More data is a good thing.”

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