We already have comprehensive studies from New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Illinois and several other states that show police use racial profiling in traffic stops. Add a new study in Connecticut with findings that are exactly like all the others: The majority of people whose cars get searched during traffic stops are black, but white people are more likely to actually be breaking the law.
In Connecticut, African Americans are twice as likely to have their cars searched for contraband than white drivers during a police stop, even though the majority of contraband found in traffic stops were found in cars belonging to white drivers, a study conducted by Central Connecticut State University found.
The study looked at more than 360,000 traffic stops over an eight-month period in Connecticut, and found that while African Americans make up less than 8 percent of the state’s population, they make up 14 percent of traffic stops. Across the state, African-American drivers have their cars searched for contraband a little over twice as often as white drivers, but 77 percent of contraband found during traffic stops was found in cars driven by white drivers.Since the study began, nine police departments have been investigated over complaints of racial profiling. For five of the investigated departments, the percentage of stopped drivers who were African American was twice their driving populations in those communities. Only one of the investigated departments, the Farmington Police Department, searched a higher percentage of cars driven by white drivers for contraband than those driven by African Americans. In the other eight, African American drivers had their cars searched for contraband between 1.5 and three times more than white drivers. In all nine of the towns, the majority of contraband found in searched cars belonged to white drivers. Two police departments, the East Windsor and Farmington departments, found contraband in none of the stopped cars driven by African Americans.
The disparate number of stops is a small problem; the disparate number of searches is a really big problem. When officers pull over a black driver, they are far more likely to think that they have reasonable suspicion for a search. The fact that those searches actually find black drives less likely to have contraband in their vehicles does nothing to diminish that perception.