D.W.B.: Driving While Broke...and Other Crimes Poor People Commit

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  • Driving While Black: Racial Profiling On Our Nation's Highways | American Civil Liberties Union.
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But an analysis by The New York Times of tens of thousands of traffic stops and years of arrest data in this racially mixed city of , uncovered wide racial differences in measure after measure of police conduct. Those same disparities were found across North Carolina, the state that collects the most detailed data on traffic stops.

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And at least some of them showed up in the six other states that collect comprehensive traffic-stop statistics. They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white. Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason.

And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance. Indeed, complaints about traffic-law enforcement are at the root of many accusations that some police departments engage in racial profiling. Since Ferguson erupted in protests in August last year, three of the deaths of African-Americans that have roiled the nation occurred after drivers were pulled over for minor traffic infractions: a broken brake light , a missing front license plate and failure to signal a lane change. Violence is rare, but routine traffic stops more frequently lead to searches, arrests and the opening of a trapdoor into the criminal justice system that can have a lifelong impact, especially for those without the financial or other resources to negotiate it.

In Greensboro, which is 41 percent black, traffic stops help feed the stream of minor charges that draw a mostly African-American crowd of defendants to the county courthouse on weekday mornings. National surveys show that blacks and whites use marijuana at virtually the same rate, but black residents here are charged with the sole offense of possession of minor amounts of marijuana five times as often as white residents are. And more than four times as many blacks as whites are arrested on the sole charge of resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer, an offense so borderline that some North Carolina police chiefs discourage its use unless more serious crimes are also involved.

Greensboro police officials said most if not all of the racial disparities in their traffic enforcement stemmed from the fact that more African-Americans live in neighborhoods with higher crime, where officers patrol more aggressively. Pulling over drivers, they said, is a standard and effective form of proactive policing. Over the years, police officials in cities like New York and Chicago have used much the same argument to justify contentious pedestrian stop-and-frisk campaigns in high-crime areas.

Criminals are less likely to frequent crime hot spots, the theory goes, if they know that the police there are especially vigilant. But increasingly, criminologists and even some police chiefs argue that such tactics needlessly alienate law-abiding citizens and undermine trust in the police. Indeed, in Fayetteville, N. Ronald L. Louis County, which includes Ferguson. The study showed — less convincingly than in Greensboro, because of less-specific data — that the police treated black motorists more harshly than white ones.

Davis said.

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Some Greensboro officials are indeed worried. A national uproar over racial profiling erupted in the s after New Jersey state troopers were found to have focused on minority drivers for traffic stops in hopes of catching drug couriers. Thousands of local law enforcement departments and more than a dozen state police agencies began collecting traffic-stop information as a result.

In the seven states with the most sweeping reporting requirements — Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Rhode Island — the data show police officers are more likely to pull over black drivers than white ones, given their share of the local driving-age population.

By itself, that proves little, because other factors besides race could be in play. More telling, many researchers agree, is what happens after a vehicle is pulled over — especially whether officers use their legal discretion to search a car or its occupants and whether those searches uncover illegal contraband. A search can also be made without consent if an officer has probable cause to suspect a crime. In the four states that track the results of consent searches, officers were more likely to conduct them when the driver was black, even though they consistently found drugs, guns or other contraband more often if the driver was white.


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The same pattern held true with probable-cause searches in Illinois and North Carolina, the two states that carefully record them. Searches are not common — officers in North Carolina, for example, conduct them in just one in 40 traffic stops. But they have an outsize impact on police-civilian relations.

Surveys show that minorities, especially blacks, are much less likely than whites to say officers acted properly at a traffic stop. But far fewer drivers of all races rate the police positively if they are searched. In most of the states that monitor traffic stops most intensely, officials acknowledge that this close attention has not had a discernible effect. In Missouri, which has collected data for 15 years, Chris Koster, the state attorney general, has said the differences in how black and white motorists are treated are bigger than ever. But Rhode Island and Connecticut have each revised practices.

After studies in and found racially disparate treatment at traffic stops, Rhode Island revamped its law enforcement training regimen. A study indicated that officers had become more judicious, conducting fewer consent and probable-cause searches of vehicles, but finding contraband more often. In three cities and two of 12 state police districts, state officials said, racial differences in the treatment of motorists were unmistakable. The state is pushing police administrators to explain why. Analysts are also comparing traffic-stop data from officers who patrol similar beats, which some researchers consider the most reliable way to uncover bias, implicit or overt.

One change is already in place: Officers now must give every stopped motorist a card explaining how to file a complaint. Across the country, the latest outcries over police-minority relations have revived interest in monitoring: California just passed a law requiring officers to record both traffic and pedestrian stops. In North Carolina, mounds of traffic-stop data lay dormant for a decade before academics like Frank R. Baumgartner, a University of North Carolina political science professor, began sifting through the statistics for evidence of bias in The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Durham, has used the patterns of racial disparities to bolster demands for restrictions on searches and other changes.

Greensboro has long cherished its reputation as a Southern progressive standout. Board of Education, although it was among the last to actually do so. But this is also where hundreds of National Guardsmen suppressed black student protesters in and where, a decade later, five protesters were murdered at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally conspicuously devoid of police protection.

The Rev. Johnson said at a recent meeting about police behavior at the Beloved Community Center. The Times analyzed tens of thousands of traffic stops made by hundreds of officers since McDevitt of Northeastern University said. Most black Greensboro drivers were stopped for regulatory or equipment violations, infractions that officers have the discretion to ignore.

And black motorists who were stopped were let go with no police action — not even a warning — more often than were whites. Criminal justice experts say that raises questions about why they were pulled over at all and can indicate racial profiling. In the past decade, officers reported using force during traffic stops only about once a month. The vast majority of the subjects were black, and most had put up resistance. Still, if a motorist was black, the odds were greater that officers would use force even in cases in which they did not first encounter resistance.

Police officials suggested that could be because more black motorists tried to flee. In an interview, Chief Scott said that overall, the statistics reflected sound crime-fighting strategies, not bias. They have produced record-low burglary rates, and most citizens welcome the effort, he said. But many criminal justice experts contend that the racial consequences of that strategy far outweigh its benefits — if, indeed, there are any.

That critique is ascendant in Fayetteville, about two hours by car from Greensboro. Fayetteville is three-fourths as big but equally diverse: Forty-six percent of its , residents are white, and 42 percent are black. More than three years ago, an uproar over reports that black drivers were disproportionately stopped and searched led to the departure of the police chief and city manager. Racism is just one of those things.

Racial profiling as dressage: a social control regime!: African Identities: Vol 7, No 1

We cannot let the prejudices and ignorance of others effect us negatively or they win and we lose. I am not saying to just take it and turn the other cheek. I am saying what can we do against racist cops and stop them from being racist? The issues with race go beyond the Police issues.

This author…sounds like he has followed me and recorded MY life. Wow You wanna talk bout being the only black person? Oh you better believe cops profile us. I have lost A LOT…my career…due to police doing illegal thing and getting away with it. I would have been charged. I was once held for 6 days…for another person of different race with the same name.

Ive been thru everything Desmond has, and then some. I could tell you a crazy story of when I was 15 and ended up in Brookside Training School. Except maybe Desmond. Thats where Brookside is located, half way between Oshawa and Kingston. I went to regular high school there for grade Brookside conducted a plethora of tests and found that I needed …higher education than what they could offer, so I was the only inmate in the history of that institution to attend a pubic school while incarcerated.

When I left… the town…all white…wept.


We… fell in love. The white people in Cobourg…wow…awesome. All I know…is that its been about 10 days since I was profiled in a most ingraining public and humiliating fashion I might add…I cant even walk the dog! One last thing? Whats it like to be white? I got 4 years for a non vital mistake and my taggable friend got a deuce less…and then, when I was in Joyceville, just outside of Kingston, there was a rapist who abducted a girl and held her for 3 days…a white guy, who got 3 years … and to not be in hateful fear every time you step out your door?

Me…Ive been thru the system, and come back…and I lost my career because of police. I remember driving to work at Trinity Square, passing Old City Hall every morning as I joined the Bay St rat race, paying my taxes and mortgage when I was 28, wearing suit, tie…and even galoshes lol…and being pulled over 16 times in one summer in my Mustang I built with my friends at a loca shop.

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I was ticketed once for not having insurance paper…in a rental car. I even showed where I signed for the million dollar coverage. YOU have 14 cop show up at your house and wake you and the tennant up…for a noise complaint…and see that 8 outta the 14 have cadet lapel tags.

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  4. Youre damn right I lost my mind and beat them all to a pulp. Now I am forever red tagged as a max level threat. I KNOW becuse friends who are police have told friends who told me lol. Guys I went to high school with We were the 3 amigos. The white one…became a cop.