State troopers released from consent decree

(October 28, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Arkansas State Police are no longer under a federal court order to assure that they're not violating constitutional rights when they stop motorists. A federal judge issued an order last week releasing the agency from a consent decree setting out procedures for traffic stops. The decree was negotiated in a settlement of a lawsuit filed in 1988 by Mark William McElrath. He had claimed his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated when he was stopped by state police.McElrath argued he was targeted because he was driving a car with out-of-state license plates. A news release from state police says the agency has surpassed requirements that had been set out for release from the consent decree. Troopers must now follow a bias-free policing policy barring race-based stops and 307 of the 340 marked state police patrol cars are now equipped with video cameras. The consent decree said state police would be released from its terms when 75 percent of patrol cars were equipped with the videotaping gear.