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ACLU Files Suit Against Illinois State Police


September-October 1994

In a case similar to the suit against the Volusia County, Florida Sheriff's Department, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Federal lawsuit against the Illinois State Police claiming discrimination in traffic stops and illegal searches of minorities' vehicles ("Another Agency Sued For Race-Based Targeting in Car Stops, Drug Searches," Law Enforcement News, Oct. 15, 1994, p. 5).

Over the past several years, the Illinois chapter of the ACLU says they have received hundreds of complaints about unfair traffic stops and seizures. The lawsuit comes after New Mexico private investigator Peso Chavez drove through Illinois on Interstate 80 to test the claims. He was stopped for not signalling a lane change and had his car searched for 90 minutes by officers and police dogs.

Chavez believes the Illinois State Police stopped him because of his race. "They have basically a profile of people -- minority people ... dark-skinned," he said. "They figured I fit the profile." State Police spokesperson John Pastouvic said his agency's traffic stop policies are not discriminatory. "Our success and reputation are the product of sound policies and solid police work," he said.