Idaho House OKs bill banning profiling of motorcyclists

Mar 2nd, 2017 | By | Category: Government

By Shelbie Harris

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PublicDomainPhotos

A new bill prohibiting law enforcement from profiling motorcycle riders passed the Idaho House of Representatives unanimously on Monday and will now head to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, spoke in favor of the bill, which prevents officers from pulling over people riding a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle paraphernalia who haven’t violated any traffic laws. He calls it a “tiny sliver in the right direction.”

“Nobody should be profiled because they look differently,” McCrostie said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a motorcycle rider, an LGBT person or someone of a different race. At the end of the day, nobody should be treated differently just because they look differently.”

Further, McCrostie said members of the Idaho Legislature have been working for over a decade to pass the “Add The Words” bill, which would amend the Idaho Humans Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“That’s still something that we’re still getting hung up on,” McCrostie said. “We’re trying to get legislation passed to add LGBT people to Idaho’s hate crime laws and we’re also getting hung up there. I’m not sure that Idaho has anything substantive that protects LGBT people.”

This new bill, HB 123, is short, according to McCrostie, who said he anticipates the Senate passing it nearly unanimously. He also hopes that the Legislature will start taking bigger steps in the direction of LGBT legislation.

Marc Romero, a local motorcycle enthusiast who owns the Mad Ink Studio tattoo parlor and who’s been a major contributor to the motorcycle rodeo event during the annual POW*MIA Awareness Rally, said he believes motorcyclists have really been given a bad name and he’s excited about this new bill.

“These aren’t gangs, they’re clubs,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s reality TV, social media or old stigmas, but the guys that are in clubs do tend to get a lot more attention from the law. I understand law enforcement is trying to do their jobs and it’s not a good guy, bad guy kind of thing and I’m not saying every biker is a saint. But not every cop is a saint either.”

He continued, “People start watching ‘Gangland’ or ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and next thing you know we’re associating any bikers as drug or gun runners. That’s the stereotypes that come from TV.”

John Heim is an apprentice mechanic at Pocatello Cycle Supply who started a local sports bike club with his brother in 2011 called Dare Devil’z. He said he has been fortunate when it comes to interactions with law enforcement, adding that he’s never been pulled over because of who he was riding with or the motorcycle gear he was wearing.

“But I have heard of stories of this happening in the Boise area, so I do think it’s a good thing,” Heim said about the new legislation. “Most of the guys that are in clubs are family people. They hold jobs, have kids and wives and just joined a club to be a part of something.”

The Pocatello members of the POW*MIA organization were major proponents of the bill, according to Jim “Rev” Jones, the executive director of the POW*MIA Awareness Association of Pocatello.

“When it was first drafted, we made calls to our representatives statewide and our local representatives,” Jones said. “We shared our concerns with it and the things that have happened. So I’m glad to see that it’s moving forward because only 1 percent of the biking community are outlaw bikers. The rest of us have a mission to bring awareness to the amount of POW*MIA’s who have not come home yet.”

Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said the bill came on the heels of several motorcycle clubs feeling that law enforcement were profiling them.

“If we see a pack of motorcycles riding around through town that doesn’t mean that we can pull them over,” he said. “But I don’t think that this bill will have any impact on how we do business in Southeast Idaho. Though we have outlaw motorcycle gang members here and we have organized motorcycle crews here like the POW*MIA, I’m not aware of any problems like this here in Southeast Idaho.”

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