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Officials want comments on new law requiring police to collect racial data from traffic offenders

State Justice officials want to get people's comments on a new law that requires police to collect racial data when they stop traffic offenders.

The law takes effect statewide in 2011, and it was passed in the state budget earlier this year. Listening sessions will begin next Wednesday in La Crosse.

They'll also be held Nov. 12 in Green Bay, and Milwaukee on the 18th.

Other sessions are planned in northern Wisconsin Dec. 1, and southeast Wisconsin Dec. 3.

Officers must determine the races of everyone they stop and the data will be sent to Madison to see if racial profiling is a problem.

Justice officials are currently working on an administrative rule which will spell out the details.

The measure was proposed in order to get Milwaukee legislators to finally agree to let police officers stop motorists just for not wearing their seat belts.

They previously opposed the so-called primary enforcement because of concerns that lots more minorities would be ticketed than whites.

But the seat-belt change was approved, and it took effect soon after the budget was signed in late June.

J.B. Van Hollen says it would make the general public and officers on the street safer, by letting the officers instantly verify names and faces of people they come in contact with.

Van Hollen calls it one of the most important public safety proposals introduced this year.

Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, the Legislature's biggest privacy advocate, voted against the bill.

And so did Polly Williams, D-Milwaukee.

The bill now goes to the Senate.