Yet Another Study Confirms Racist Nature of Traffic Stops

Yet Another Study Confirms Racist Nature of Traffic Stops January 6, 2015

And here we have yet another study that shows that the police pull over black motorists at a far higher rate than white motorists but find that whites are actually more likely to be violating the law when they do. I don’t know of a single study anywhere in the nation that shows a contrary result, this is remarkably consistent no matter where it’s looked at. This one involved the city of Chicago.

In 2013, the CPD conducted 100,676 traffic stops. See Exh. 1. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois analyzed the underlying IDOT data regarding these stops. We found significant racial disparities in traffic stops, both City-wide and in the police districts that contain the fewest minority residents. We also found significant racial disparities in four kinds of searches conducted during these traffic stops. Specifically, we found:

1. Racial disparities in traffic stops.

  • City-wide. The rate of black drivers in the stops (46%) is far higher than the rate of black residents in the city population (32%). See Exh. 2. White and Hispanic drivers are stopped at rates lower than their population.
  • In higher-white police districts. In the five police districts where whites are a majority of the resident population, minority motorists are significantly over-stopped. As expressed in ratios of stop rates to population rates, black motorists are over-stopped by ratios ranging from 1.7 to 7.5, and Hispanic motorists are over-stopped by ratios ranging from 1.1 to 2.3. For example, in District #18 (Near North), where the resident population is 76% white, blacks are 9% of the residents and 19% of the traffic stops (yielding an over-stop ratio of 2.1), and Hispanics are 5% of the population and 11% of the stops (yielding an over-stop ratio of 2.3). See Exh. 2. [1]

2. Racial disparities in four kinds of searches during traffic stops

  • Searches of vehicles by consent (1,390 times). CPD was over four times more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists, compared to white motorists (4.74 and 4.09 times). See Exh. 3. CPD was about twice as likely to find contraband when they searched white motorists, compared to black and Hispanic motorists (2.1 and 1.86 times). See Exh. 4. (The points in this paragraph were part of the ACLU’s August 2014 published report about consent searches of cars throughout Illinois.)
  • Searches of vehicles by non-consent (2,421 times). CPD was far more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists compared to white motorists (3.42 and 4.82 times). See Exh. 6. CPD was far more likely to find contraband when they searched white motorists, compared to black and Hispanic motorists (1.76 and 1.51 times). See Exh. 7.
  • Searches of drivers by consent (1,597 times). CPD was far more likely to search black and Hispanic drivers compared to white motorists (4.9 and 4.46 times). See Exh. 8. White motorists were slightly less likely than black motorists to be caught with contraband (0.94 times), and were more likely than Hispanic motorists to be caught with contraband (1.34). See Exh. 9.
  • Searches of drivers by non-consent (2,668 times). CPD was far more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists compared to white motorists (3.72 and 5.22 times). See Exh. 10. CPD was far more likely to find contraband when they searched white motorists, compared to black and Hispanic motorists (1.65 and 2.70 times). See Exh. 11.

And these results are even more obvious in the whitest areas of the city. A black driver is most likely to be pulled over if driving in a predominately white area of town. You can read the full study here. This mirrors results in New Jersey, Florida, Maryland and many other places that have had similar studies done.


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