There were no specific allegations of racial profiling by Albany police against Hispanics offered at Tuesday's Human Relations Commission meeting, but there were concerns about people being pulled over for what some considered minor traffic infractions.
Chief Ed Boyd said this morning he informed the commission that officers routinely pull over people of all nationalities for what some say are trivial reasons.
"Traffic stops are the way we can make more felony arrests because we often find people with drugs, guns and warrants for their arrest," he said.
The commission held a 45-minute discussion about whether police discriminate against Hispanics even though statistics presented to the commission several months ago indicate that singling out minorities for stops does not happen in Albany.
The commission, however, wanted to take another look at the possibility at its Tuesday meeting.
Boyd said because there appears to be a perception that profiling occurs, he and commission members Delia Guillen and Blanca Ruckert will discuss ways to deal with that impression. The chief said some ideas include holding an open house at the police department, having a "meet and greet," and asking Hispanic residents to ride along with police officers.
"We would encourage ride-alongs because people would get to know officers on an individual basis rather than as just the police," he said.
Boyd plans to begin meeting with the Hispanic leadership in Albany.
Commission chairman C. Jeffery Evans said the commission could serve as a neutral third party in any discussions or outreach programs with the police.
"We need to have the Hispanic community come forward with any complaints or its perceptions because if we don't hear from anyone, there is not a lot the commission can do," he said.
Boyd asked that anyone with a complaint call the police at 917-7680 or write the department at P.O. Box Box 490, Albany, OR 97321.
The commission meets monthly. At its Sept. 23 meeting, members will talk about how the commission can play a more substantial role next year to increase awareness of mental health issues. At a later meeting, the topic will be how to increase the city's efforts to expand accessibility to the mobility impaired.