Idil NunowMs.Garcia Research 121/28/18 Racial Disparity in Police Traffic Stops Philando Castile. Jordan Edwards.
Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Terence Crutcher. Walter Scott. The names can go on. These are the victims of police shootings, all were black. As a result to the unlawful and vicious murders, Black Lives Matter movement was made to fight back the injustice and oppression black Americans face.
In the United States Black people make up about 13.3% of the population and White people make up 76.9% (U.S Census Bureau). The percentages of the Black and White population is widely different. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley reports that Black people were five times as likely to be pulled over than White people looking at the racial proportion of the city population, according to 2010 Census data is 63% black and about 34% white.
“Blacks were nearly 73 times more likely than whites to be pulled over in Ferguson last year in proportion to the state’s racial breakdown, which is about 11% black and 83% white” (Census Bureau). There is no way one can ignore the fact that there is a racial problem in policing especially when the majority of those being pulled over are the minority. The New York Times reported on July 6, 2016 Philando Castile was fatally shot by police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Castile was pulled over and 40 seconds later he was shot multiple times (Smith).
The victim had informed the officer that he had a legal gun in his possession. The officer started yelling at Castile to keep his hands where he can see them. Castile was simply reaching for his driver’s’ license when Yanez started to shoot. The officer was investigated but never charged of any crime. In New York City, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner by putting the unarmed 43-year-old black man in a chokehold. A team of graduates at Stanford University are working together with Stanford Department of Engineering and Stanford Computational Journalism Lab on the Stanford Open Policing Project in which they collect and organize data on vehicle and pedestrian stops from law enforcement departments across the country. Police pull over around 50,000 motorist or more on a normal day, and more than 20 million a year.
In a court case between the city of New York and David Floyd, he was stopped and frisked by police officers because of the officer’s suspicion. The New York police department made 4.4 million stops between January 2004 and June 2012., over 80% of these 4.4 million stops were blacks and hispanics (Floyd v.
City of New York 1).The problem is that there is a racial disparity in police traffic stops. When pulled over for speeding, black drivers are 20% more likely to get a ticket (rather than a warning) than white drivers, and hispanic drivers are searched more often than whites. (Stanford Open Policing). Black drivers being pulled over result in deaths more than white drivers, and being that black drivers are indeed pulled over more they are also more likely to be incarcerated. Biased law enforcement practices not only perpetuate negative stereotypes and promote mistrust of law enforcement, but also are counterproductive to the goal of good policing (Department of Justice).
Most of the racial disparity in traffic stops are in areas of the US with more of a racial divide. In every state there is a difference in racial population, some states might have way more White people and in some states the Black population might be more. To combat the racial disparity in traffic stops in the US local police department should build a closer relationship with their community, be required to have system to record lists of people they stop -including their race, and continue to improve existing programs that eliminate racial profiling. First to all police departments in the U.S should try to terminate the stigma the people have towards police officers. According to The Washington Post, Police distrust of the public can lead to an increase in officer misconduct and the use of force, as well as the adoption of aggressive, “zero tolerance” tactics that further exacerbate the tension, perpetuating a downward spiral (Stoughton).
This gets in the way of a officer’s performance and judgement on the job which can lead to more fatal accidents between the people and the police linking this back to all the cases of police shootings that was the aftermath of a regular traffic stop. Statistics from Census Bureau convey that most police officers do not live in the areas they patrol and work in. On average, among the 75 U.S. cities with the largest police forces, 60 percent of police officers reside outside the city limits. Black and Hispanic officers are considerably more likely to reside in the cities they police than white ones.
In Detroit, 57 percent of black police officers live in the city but just 8 percent of white officers do (Census Bureau). This is the reason that most of the police officers that pull over minorities are white officers. More than half of the shootings of victims who were unarmed were by white officers. White officers do not live in the areas they patrol creating a distrust between its residents compared to black and hispanic officers. This only creates a tension between the locals and the police officers who decide not to live in their city limits.
If all officers were required to live in their city then it would eliminate the unfamiliarity between the citizens of the city and the officers. This could end or decrease the racial profiling in traffic stops and police shootings resulting from the traffic stops. To build trust with the police, they should keep an organized network to keep track of who is being pulled over and why. Continuing and improving the current police training programs can help fix the racial outlook while on duty.