President Ronald Reagan established the Task Force on Crime in South Florida under Vice President George Bush's direction. The primary mission of the Task Force was to intensify air and sea operations against drug smuggling in the South Florida area, but it was not long before the Florida Highway Patrol entered the fray. In 1985, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued guidelines for the police on \"The Common Characteristics of Drug Couriers.\" The guidelines cautioned troopers to be suspicious of rental cars, \"scrupulous obedience to traffic laws,\" and drivers wearing \"lots of gold,\" or who do not \"fit the vehicle,\" and \"ethnic groups associated with the drug trade.\" Traffic stops were initiated by the state troopers using this overtly race-based profile.
In April 1999, Congressman Conyers reintroduced the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act (HR 1443), sponsored in the Senate (S.821) by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI). Passage of the Act should be viewed as a first step toward addressing a difficult problem. While it does not regulate traffic stops, set standards for them, or require implementation of particular policies, it does require the gathering of solid, comprehensive information, so that discussion of the problem might move beyond the question of whether or not the problem exists, to the question of how to fix the problem. 1e1e36bf2d