Charlotte, N.C., officials have numbers from a new report showing Black and Hispanic drivers are far more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers, but they aren’t sure if racial bias is at play.
Charlotte, stop playing in our faces.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the 163-page city-commissioned report found the data to hold up even when considering the racial makeup of neighborhoods. The report was produced by the RAND Corporation, analyzing data from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for traffic stops, arrests, use of force incidents and the results for contraband searches.
From the Observer:
Although Black and Hispanic drivers were more likely to be pulled over than whites, officers were not significantly more likely to find contraband when searching Black drivers compared to white drivers, the report found. Hispanics were less likely than whites to possess contraband.
City Council member Victoria Watlington pressed the issue during a council meeting on Monday, saying the figures were likely to “raise some eyebrows over at CMPD.”
Well, police Chief Johnny Jennings asked for a deeper analysis of the numbers. He said that any discrepancies can be explained by looking at where officers are deployed.
“When you overlay the violent crime, we are exactly where we need to be as police officers,” Jennings said, according to the Observer. He also said that because officers are more likely to be in neighborhoods with higher rates of violence, the disparity could still exist if officers are not targeting Black drivers.
Chief Jennings, you really need to read this report.
Here’s more from the Observer:
▪ Across the city, white residents were stopped by police officers at a rate of 0.79 per 100,000 people; Hispanic residents at 1.13; Black residents at 2.37; Asian residents at 0.42; and “other or unknown race/ethnicity” at 1.67.
▪ When accounting for neighborhood characteristics, Hispanics were about as likely to be stopped by police as whites, while Black residents were twice as likely to be stopped.
▪ Black drivers are nearly two times as likely to be arrested during a stop as whites, and nearly two times as likely to experience a use of force.
Mayor Vi Lyles said at a news conference on Thursday that the report didn’t have sufficient data to conclude that race was at play, the Observer reports.
Charlotte isn’t the only city with these numbers. Last month, The Root reported that Chicago police pull over Black drivers seven times more than white drivers. Someone needs to give a more convincing explanation for the data than “Officers just so happened to be there.”