Ottawa police have launched a controversial three week pilot project that has officers keeping track of the perceived race of the motorists that they pull over.

The Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project is designed to find out how much race influences the decisions police make when they pull someone over.


Patrick Flanagan said forty officers are involved in the project. (CBC)

Forty officers are involved in the project and the data will be analyzed with help from York University.

The project is the result of a settlement in the case of Chad Aiken, a young black man who was stopped in May 2005 while driving his mother's Mercedes and who recorded an officer being abusive.

Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ottawa Police Services Board agreed that police would begin to track race data.


Chad Aiken, pictured here at 18, sparked a human rights complaint against Ottawa police claiming he was racially profiled at a traffic stop in 2005. (CBC)

"The people that we stop will not notice any difference whatsoever," said Inspector Patrick Flanagan, who is in charge of the project for Ottawa police.

He said the Ottawa community has raised the issue of race bias and police are responding.

"As a police service we have a responsibility to listen to those concerns," he said.

The pilot project expands to a full launch in June, when all officers authorized to pull motorists over will have to collect race data.