Too many bikers have already been victims of profiling. But today there is something to celebrate. Governor Chris Gregoire has signed Senate Bill 5242 that outlaws profiling of motorcyclists by state troopers and local law enforcement officers in Washington state. The new law is modeled on a 2002 state law outlawing racial profiling by police, and it includes similar safeguards. It requires the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the Criminal Justice Training Commission to add a statement condemning motorcycle profiling to their existing policies banning racial profiling. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker garb, stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal ground.
Jeff “Twitch” Burns, a member of a Tacoma-area motorcycle club, has produced an 86-minute video documenting discriminatory tactics by police officers, including a video of a state trooper crawling through bushes near the Legislative Building in Olympia two years ago and writing down motorcycle license numbers while bikers were holding a rally. “As soon as you are stopped, officers don’t treat you like a normal person,” he said. “They search you, they ask you about your tattoos, they try to take pictures of your tattoos. They ask you about your motorcycle club and its affiliation with other motorcycle clubs.” Burns has posted a YouTube video from 2008 showing a state trooper pulling over a biker in Thurston County for no apparent reason and ordering him to remove his helmet. When the biker refused, he was arrested.” Burns said. “There is no statutory basis for that. As a result of that arrest, the Washington State Patrol was forced to pay the motorcyclist $90,000.”