Policing

Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops

Eric Fritsch
Professor of Criminal Justice, University of North Texas

Key Findings

  • In 2005, 54% of traffic stops were of black individuals while they only accounted for 25% of the Duncanville, TX population.
  • Hispanic individuals in DeSoto accounted for 13% of stops but only 7% of the population in 2005.
  • A majority of traffic stops do not end in a vehicle search (91%).
  • Racial differences are seen in vehicle searches, 5% are white, 10% are black and 13% are Hispanic.
  • Black individuals’ account for 56% of arrests after a traffic stop.
  • In 98% of vehicle searches, officers did not ask for consent to search.

Description

In the article, “Racial Profiling and the Political Demand for Data: A Pilot Study Designed to Improve Methodologies in Texas,” Fritsch and his coauthors examine a pilot project to help prevent police racial profiling by collecting traffic stop data focused in Texas. The pilot project helped develop a scantron document to standardize the method for collecting and analyzing data for traffic stops. The scantron data findings presented general stop, demographic and situational data as well as search and arrest data. Across all races, a majority of individuals stopped did not have their cars searched (91%). According to Fritsch, this standardized data collection method still needs to be able to describe the degree to which racial profiling is a problem but continuing data collection is necessary.

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