Saturday, August 20, 2016

Black, Hispanic drivers stopped most often, white drivers most likely to have contraband

Public Release: 1-Jul-2016
Black, Hispanic drivers stopped most often, white drivers most likely to have contraband
Anaylsis of traffic stops and outcomes in Vermont shows racial disparities
University of Vermont

A new study analyzing traffic stops in Vermont shows that black and Hispanic drivers are pulled over, searched and arrested far more often than whites, yet white drivers are more likely to be carrying illegal contraband.
[White drivers who are searched . It appears that white drivers who are not carrying illegal contraband are less likely to be stopped than drivers of other races who are not carrying illegal contraband. The study indicates probable bias, but not whether the races differ on the incidence of carrying illegal contraband.]

The independent study of racial disparities in traffic stops and outcomes by Vermont State Police between July 1, 2010 and December 31, 2015 found that black drivers were pulled over most often, followed closely by Hispanics. When stopped, black drivers were searched 4.6 times more often than white drivers, while Hispanics were searched four times more often than whites.

Despite having a significantly higher probability of being arrested and searched, black and Hispanic drivers had a lower probability of being found with contraband, also known as hit rate, than whites, according to the study. Overall, white and Asian drivers were stopped least often based on their shares of the population and were treated similarly except when it came to citations. Asian drivers received citations 48.1 percent of the time compared to 36.9 percent for whites.


The Vermont State Police are not alone when it comes to racial disparities in traffic stops. Other states and cities report similar rates of racial discrepancies, including the Burlington Police Department based on a 2014 study by Seguino and Nancy Brooks of Cornell University, who also co-authored the current study. Despite unsuccessful attempts in the past to curb racial disparities in traffic stops, Vermont State Police officials are committed to addressing the issue on multiple levels.


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