Both sides can argue about the extent of racial profiling in Maine and they will only lack one thing: actual information about how much of it is going on.

There are anecdotes from ethnic minorities and people of color, and many of them sound credible.

There are strong avowals by law enforcement leaders, who say that they do not tell officers to stop people based on the color of their skin or because they speak with an accent.

What we don’t know is what happens out on the street between individual officers and members of minority communities, and until we have better information, both sides are going to keep talking over each other’s heads.

Getting that information is the job of a task force created by the Legislature this year. It has representatives of law enforcement and civil liberties groups, and they are charged with collecting data.

So far, that has been the challenge. People say that they believe they have been pulled over or questioned for no reason other than race or ethnicity, but if these encounters did not lead to an arrest or ticket, there may be no record of the incident.

They also may not know whether there was some legitimate reason for the police attention, such as a report of a suspect that matches their description.

Police officers have to have the ability to follow leads and do their jobs. No one argues otherwise. But everyone should be able to travel without fear that they are going to be stopped and questioned just because of who they are.

The task force should be allowed to do its job and examine these anecdotes to determine if they really do point to a systemic problem that can be addressed with a law. Until we have that information, this argument won’t be resolved.