Phil Matier: Racial Profiling Or High Crime Area? What Police Do With Traffic-Stop Data
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Bay Area police departments collect information on the race of drivers pulled over in traffic stops, but most of the agencies report they don’t have the time, staff or budget to do anything with that information.
Racial profiling has become one of the issues taken up by protesters in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed, African-American 18-year-old.
The question becomes is this about race or crime? Either way it’s not a pretty picture, which is why the departments don’t go out of the way to correlate the statistics. They know what they’ll find and journalists have found it to be the same. You’ll find a disproportionate amount of African-Americans and Latinos being pulled over in urban areas.
The cops will say that often times it correlates with street crimes in those areas so that’s where they concentrate. One of the ways in which they do that is through traffic stops.
When you’re a civil rights attorney, you grab those numbers and you say this is evidence of racial discrimination and racial profiling. Cops or the mayor perhaps might say that they’re trying to get into those areas to clean out the existing crime.
In any event I’ll guarantee you whoever is getting stopped is going to be between the ages of 18 and 28 because that’s pretty much who the cops are looking at.
The statistics are pretty blatant. In Oakland for example, 62 percent of the people stopped by police were black. The overall percentage of blacks in Oakland’s population is 28 percent.