"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.
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:12 AM EST2013-12-05 13:12:30 GMT
The prospective new owners of the Burlington Town Center mall have big plans for its future. According to a memo from the Devonwood Investment group, the New York City company wants to add a new anchorMore >>
The prospective new owners of the Burlington Town Center mall have big plans for its future.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 9:29 AM EST2013-12-05 14:29:39 GMT
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year. For J.R. Adams, decorating his home elaborately with lights, music, and Santa Claus on a motorcycle is a childhood dream come true. "IMore >>
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-05 14:31:18 GMT
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region. Home Instead Senior Care is collecting gifts as part of its "Be a Santa to a Senior Program." The group'sMore >>
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 9:33 AM EST2013-12-05 14:33:23 GMT
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver. They say Wednesday afternoon an older model red Subaru wagon driving north on Route 14 in Williamstown crossed into oncoming traffic, enteredMore >>
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 9:36 AM EST2013-12-05 14:36:20 GMT
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues. Wednesday night the South Burlington School board voted to pursue an appeal with the state supreme court to keep the clinic away fromMore >>
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-05 01:05:10 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>