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Bureau of Justice Statistics Report - minorities more likely to be searched-arrested

Bureau of Justice Report - Minorities more likely to be searched and arrested

Read the Actual Bureau of Justice Report April 30, 2007


Black, Hispanic and white drivers are equally likely to be pulledover by police, but African Americans and Hispanics are much morelikely to be searched and arrested, a federal study found.And police are much more likely to use force against or to threatento use force against African Americans and Hispanics than againstwhites, whether in a traffic stop or another encounter, according tothe Justice Department

The study, released yesterday by the department's Bureau of JusticeStatistics, covered police contacts with the public during 2005 andwas based on interviews by the Census Bureau with nearly 64,000people age 16 or over."

The numbers are very consistent" with those found in a similarstudy of police-public contacts in 2002, said bureau statisticianMatthew R. Durose, a co-author of the report.

Traffic stops are the most frequent way police interact with thepublic, and minority groups have said that many stops and searchesare based on race. Some African Americans allege being pulled overfor "driving while black.""The available data is sketchy but deeply concerning," said HilaryO. Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau.

The NAACP hasdone surveys on traffic stops, and he said the racial disparitiesgrow larger as the studies delve deeper."It's very important to look at the hit rates for searches -- thenumber that actually result in finding a crime," Sheltonsaid. "There's a great deal of racial disparity there.""This report shows there are still disturbing disparities in termsof what happens to people of color after the stop," said Dennis D.Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's racialjustice project. He also said better reporting is needed.This report, like the one for 2002, warns that the racialdisparities uncovered "do not constitute proof that police treatpeople differently along demographic lines."

The differences couldbe explained by circumstances not analyzed by the survey.Black, Hispanic and white motorists were equally likely to be pulledover by police -- between 8 percent and 9 percent of each group.The racial disparities showed up after that point:African Americans (9.5 percent) and Hispanics (8.8 percent) weremuch more likely to be searched than whites (3.6 percent).African Americans (4.5 percent) were more than twice as likely aswhites (2.1 percent) to be arrested. Hispanic drivers were arrested3.1 percent of the time.Among all police-public contacts, force was used 1.6 percent of thetime. But officers were more likely to use force against or tothreaten to use force against African Americans (4.4 percent) andHispanics (2.3 percent) than against whites (1.2 percent).

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