Report Shows Racial Disparities Persist in Routine Traffic Stops

Police officer writing a ticketData shows police are more likely to pull over black and Latino drivers, even though a University of Vermont study of policing practices suggests white drivers are more frequently found with drugs and other contraband. According to the study, racial disparities in policing practices increased between 2011 and 2015.

Racial Disparities in Vermont Policing

The study looked at traffic stops between July 1, 2010, and December 31, 2015. Black drivers were more likely than any other racial group to be stopped, with Hispanics a close second. Police officers searched black motorists 4.6 times as frequently as they searched whites, and they searched Hispanic drivers four times as frequently as whites.

White drivers were significantly more likely to have contraband such as drugs, but less likely to be arrested. Asian drivers faced similar stop and search rates to whites, but were more likely to receive a citation. Asians were cited in 48.1% of stops, and whites were cited in 36.9%.

The study also showed significant variability among troopers in their rates of stopping and searching motorists of color, suggesting some police officers promote even larger racial disparities or instances of racism.

An earlier study, released in May 2016, found similar disparities. In that study, police searched black motorists at five times the rate of whites. About 1.1% of white motorists who were pulled over were searched, compared to 5.1% of black motorists, 4% of Hispanic motorists, 3.9% of Native American motorists, and 0.8% of Asian motorists.

Race-based disparities in police treatment can have lasting consequences. According to a 2016 report from The Sentencing Project, Vermont incarcerates African-Americans at one of the highest rates in the country, along with Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Idaho. One out of every 14 black men in Vermont is incarcerated.

Nationwide Trends in Criminal Justice

Vermont’s policing and incarceration rates reflect a larger nationwide trend. A 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics report also found police are more likely to search black drivers. Disparities varied across geographic locations. Connecticut police, for example, searched black drivers at 2.6 times the rate of whites, while Chicago police searched them five times more often than whites.

Another recent study suggested judges sentence black defendants more harshly for petty crimes.

References:

  1. Black, Hispanic drivers stopped most often, white drivers most likely to have contraband. (2016, July 1). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uov-bhd070116.php
  2. Guo, J. (2015, October 27). Police are searching black drivers more often, but finding more illegal stuff with white drivers. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/27/police-are-searching-black-drivers-more-often-but-finding-more-illegal-stuff-with-white-drivers-2/
  3. Hewitt, E. (2016, May 25). Racial disparities documented in state police traffic stops. Retrieved from http://vtdigger.org/2016/05/25/racial-disparities-documented-in-state-police-traffic-stops/
  4. Langton, L., PhD, & Durose, M. (2013, September). Police behavior during traffic and street stops, 2011 [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  5. Nellis, A., PhD. (2016). The color of justice: Racial and ethnic disparity in state prisons[PDF]. Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project.
  6. True, M. (2016, July 1). New reports show stark racial disparities in Vermont policing and incarceration. Retrieved from https://vtdigger.org/2016/07/01/new-reports-show-stark-racial-disparities-in-vermont-policing-and-incarceration/

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 6 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • SPENCER

    SPENCER

    July 6th, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    tHIS HAS TO BE PRETTY DISAPPOINTING TO ALL OF THE COPS WHO ARE OUT THERE TRYING TO PROTECT AND SERVE AND DO THE RIGHT THING AND STILL YOU HAVE THE ONES WHO ARE ALWAYS GOING TO GIVE EVERYONE ELSE A BAD NAME

  • larry

    larry

    July 7th, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    When this comes to a head again like it did in Ferguson and it will especially after two men have been killed in the past two days in Louisiana and Minnesota, police and society as a whole are going to wish that they had learned from their mistakes the first time. We can’t continue to treat this demographic as if they are less than full members of society.

  • Bruce V

    Bruce V

    July 8th, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    Will it ever stop?

  • max

    max

    July 9th, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    I have always tried to tell my kids to just shut their mouths and do what a cop is telling them to do. There is no need to mouth back and act like you have a bad attitude even if the cop does. Just do what they say and the rest we can all sort out later but at least you will be alive to have a chance.

  • Clyde

    Clyde

    July 11th, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Obviously the numbers tell a very compelling story

  • gerald

    gerald

    July 12th, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    It is so hard for a community as a whole to put all of your faith and trust in a police force that when you look at studies like this one seems to overwhelmingly be against those of any color. I mean, think abut it. If you were a young person of color, and you saw this unfairness that seems to be so inherent, would you have any kind of trust in those in the police uniform? Now I am not advocating for violence, but we at least need to have a national conversation and be very open about the fact that like it or not these are things that are happening in this world that have to be stopped before any kind of agreement and racial harmony can ever be reached in this country.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.