A serious accusation has come to our attention with regard to the way in which the Elk Grove Village Police Department handles traffic enforcement. We have seen rumors on social media claiming that our Police Department is discriminating against minorities and lower income citizens through the use of traffic enforcement zones and roadside safety checks.
We take such accusations very seriously—the Elk Grove Village Police Department holds our officers to the highest standards and require they treat all individuals with dignity and respect.
To address these false accusations requires an explanation of the traffic enforcement campaigns, which the Elk Grove Police Department participates through grants provided by the state and federal government. There are two different types of campaigns funded by grants, which have different focus areas:
Traffic enforcement zones are focused on specific times of the year and days when data shows that alcohol-involved and unbuckled fatalities are at their highest. Through this type of enforcement, officers are stationed at intersections to check all vehicles stopped at traffic lights or stop signs and pull over vehicles that are exhibiting a primary violation based on seatbelt usage, cell phone usage or other violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
Roadside Safety Checks are designed to protect the public by screening motorists and vehicles for compliance with safety requirements through the Illinois Vehicle Code. Because not all violations are identifiable based on the external appearance of a vehicle, this type of enforcement uses a published, predetermined interval to identify vehicles for random screening. At no time are vehicles directed into the screening area based on the motorist’s or passengers’ race, creed, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or any factor other than the pre-determined interval
At the screening area, motorists are required to show proof of a valid license and proof of insurance. If no violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code are observed by the officer, then no citations will be issued and the officer will not attempt to pursue any action on a matter unrelated to traffic safety.
Rumor: The Elk Grove Village Police Department is discriminating based on race during the operation of traffic enforcement zones.
Fact: The Elk Grove Village Police Department has consistently maintained its accountability in execution of all state and federal enforcement requirements relating to enforcement zones and roadside safety checks. The Department has established guidelines for such operations in order to prevent potential discrimination.
At no time are vehicles directed into screening areas based on the motorist’s or passengers’ race, creed, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or any factor other than the pre-determined interval. Supervisors in the Police Department are on-site for all roadside safety checkpoints to ensure adherence to Department policies and guidelines.
Rumor: The Police Department targets older vehicles that lower income citizens drive.
Fact: In enforcement zones, vehicles are only targeted for non-compliance with the Illinois State Vehicle Code. All vehicles are required to be in compliance with this code, regardless of the age of the car. At roadside safety checks, vehicles are randomly selected at pre-determined intervals for screening.
Rumor: Older vehicles were not originally built with shoulder seatbelts, so seatbelts are not as visible, resulting in older vehicles being stopped unfairly.
Fact: Shoulder seatbelts became standard in vehicles beginning in 1968, and there are not very many vehicles manufactured prior to 1968 on the road. However, the Police Department is aware that some older vehicles may not include a shoulder seatbelt in some or all seats, in which case motorists using the factory provided lap seatbelt are considered in compliance with the seatbelt law.
Rumor: Citations are issued for insignificant equipment violations, including excessive rust and burned out side marker lights.
Fact: Police Officers do not issue citations for excessive rust or burned out side marker lights. Most vehicles do not have side marker lights. Citations are issued if a vehicle has a headlight or tail light out, or if brake lights are non-functional. These types of lights are required because they are critical to safety.
Rumor: Motorists are arrested at traffic enforcement zones/safety checkpoints for minor issues, such as overdue parking tickets, lack of insurance and child safety seat violations.
Fact: Officers do not arrest individuals for overdue parking tickets. Officers also do not arrest individuals for failure to show proof of insurance, child safety seat violations or other minor issues; however, citations are issued for these violations. Arrests do sometimes take place at roadside safety checks/enforcement zones. Individuals may be arrested for severe violations, such as DUIs, or if there is an active warrant out for an individual’s arrest.
Rumor: Motorists are unfairly arrested at traffic stops for outstanding warrants.
Fact: An arrest warrant is an official document, signed by a judge on behalf of the state, which authorizes a police officer to arrest the person named in the warrant. An outstanding arrest warrant indicates that there is a law enforcement agency which is actively pursuing an individual. Law enforcement agencies share information, such as outstanding warrants, to prevent the evasion of criminal charges and/or court orders.
Rumor: More than 90% of individuals arrested by the Elk Grove Police Department during traffic stops are Hispanic.
Fact: The breakdown of individuals arrested during traffic stops by race over the last year is: Hispanic: 48%, White: 36%, Black: 11%, Asian: 4%; Unknown: 1%.
The Police Department tracks and reports data with regard to traffic stops as part of an effort to monitor possible racial bias. Data is used to by determine the likelihood that minority drivers will be stopped by law enforcement agencies by calculating the ratio between the percentage of minority stops by an agency and that community’s estimated minority driving population.
A ratio of 1.0 would mean that the percentage of traffic stops for minority drivers exactly matches the estimated percentage of minority driving population in a community. Over the past five years, the Elk Grove Village Police Department has maintained a ratio between 0.80 - 1.1.
Rumor: The Elk Grove Village Police Department issues warnings to white motorists, but not minority motorists.
Fact: Over the past five years, traffic stops by the Elk Grove Village Police Department involving minority motorists have ended with a verbal or written warning 41% of the time. Over that same time period, traffic stops involving white motorists have ended with a verbal or written warning 45% of the time.
If anyone feels they have been treated unfairly or unprofessionally during any type of traffic enforcement encounter with an Elk Grove Village Police Officer (or any interaction of any kind), then they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department by contacting an on-duty supervisor at 847-357-4100 so that we can look into the matter and hold officers accountable, if necessary.
To view the Rumor vs. Fact page, please click here.