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Police start collecting racial data on stopped drivers in 2011

If you're stopped for a traffic violation, the officer will take note of your race and send that data to Madison starting in 2011.

The state Legislature's Joint Finance Committee endorsed that move Monday, to determine if officers are hassling minorities.

Gov. Jim Doyle's proposed budget would have only collected the racial data in the state's 11 largest counties but the finance panel voted 12-4 to collect the data statewide.

All four Republicans voted no, saying officers have better things to do - especially in smaller towns - and they should use their limited resources to fight crime.

But Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, says that if drivers are targeted by their race, it erodes trust in the legal system.

The state Office of Justice Assistance will decide how the racial data is used.

The governor proposed it to get Milwaukee legislators to agree to let law enforcement stop drivers just for not wearing seat belts.

Until now, opponents of the so-called primary enforcement had feared racial profiling. The finance panel endorsed the seat belt measure a few weeks ago.