Hispanics and Blacks Pulled Over More Often Than Whites, New Report Shows

September 18, 2014 by No Comments

A new report shows that Connecticut police pull over Hispanic and black drivers at much higher rates than whites.Additionally, police are twice as likely to search the cars of Hispanic and black drivers during a traffic stop, even though cars driven by whites are more likely to contain contraband.

The study was released by Central Connecticut State University last week. The Traffic Stop Data Report was mandated as part of a new state law intended to reduce racial profiling.

Disturbing Data
Between Oct. 1, 2013, and May 31, 2014, police made 366,000 stops. Of those, 84% involved white drivers, 14% involved black drivers and 12% involved Hispanic drivers. (People can fall into more than one ethnic grouping, which is why the numbers don’t total 100%.)

The state’s population is 84% white, 8% black and 10% Hispanic, meaning that blacks are almost twice as likely to be stopped than whites on a percentage basis.

The police searched stopped cars with white drivers only 2.65% of the time. Vehicles driven by blacks were searched during 5.7% of stops, and vehicles driven by Hispanics were searched 5.37% of the time.

Contraband, however, was found in cars driven by whites 32.34% of the time, cars driven by blacks in 27% of instances, and cars driven by Hispanics at a rate of only 24.7%.

The researchers have cautioned that this data may not be evidence of racial profiling by police, since there are numerous factors that go into deciding traffic stops and searches.

But this isn’t the first time Connecticut police have faced accusations of racial profiling. A civil suit is still pending after two East Haven cops were found guilty in 2013 of civil rights abuses against Hispanics.

Balancing Equality and Caution
Hispanic drivers, like most minorities, face the dilemma of balancing a right for equal treatment with cautious steps to avoid police interaction in which they may not be treated fairly.

Keeping one’s car in good condition, for example, is one way to avoid unwanted attention from police.

A recent study showed that 77% of the cars inspected needed maintenance or repairs, and obvious signs of disrepair—such as a broken headlight—can give police a reason to stop a car that is otherwise driving legally.

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