"It's our supposition that law enforcement is specifically targeting people of color," said Curtiss Reed.
Reed said he has a file full of stories from people who say they were victims of racial profiling by police. But there is no evidence to prove it.
"Sort of the knee-jerk response on the part of law enforcement is we don't racially profile. When you ask, well provide us with the data that proves that you don't profile, they say, well we don't have any data. So there's always that element of suspicion, that we're not really being transparent," said Reed.
Reed chairs the Vermont Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The panel held a hearing Thursday-- exploring whether racial data should be collected during police contact such as traffic stops.
"I believe Vermont does have a problem with racial bias and profiling that must be investigated," said Deputy Defender General Anna Saxman.
Saxman told the panel about an African-American graduate student who had been stopped by police 13 times in one year but never given a traffic ticket. So there was no paper trail.
"One problem is much of what may be profiling is virtually invisible because many of the people who are the subject of racial profiling aren't charged with anything and they don't complain or come forward," said Saxman.
But Bill Sorrell, D-Vt. Attorney General, said collecting such data raises issues of privacy.
"When the legislature has considered this issue in the past, there has been a good deal of resistance to recording the information with personally identifiable information in the data if there is no criminal process that ensues from a stop."
The committee will cull through all the testimony and then make recommendations to policy makers.
The chairman said only two states-- Vermont and Mississippi-- don't collect racial data during traffic stops. A Vermont Law School professor who testified said we may be late, but we can learn from the experiences of other states.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
A warning for pet owners in our region. Coyotes are on the prowl. A biologist in New Hampshire says he has received more than 10 calls recently, in the Keene, New Hampshire area, for a deer that was takenMore >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
Many business owners at the Burlington Home Show say the new health care system in Vermont is helpful, but some say it's causing a real headache.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
Women's March for Dignity say they are demanding lawmakers support paid sick day policies for all workers.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>