A study of alleged racial profiling by Minnesota law enforcers found that blacks, Latinos, and American Indians are more likely than whites to be stopped and searched by police, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Minneapolis Police Department wants to look beyond the numbers and determine what policies and procedures involving traffic enforcement need to be changed to stop the problem.
The process will be conducted in two phases–first by community members, police officers, and national experts, and the second with an independent team that will examine how close the department is to meeting its standards.
“This is not a personnel performance review,” said former Hennepin County Attorney Tom Johnson of the Council on Crime and Justice. “It’s looking at institutional facts that may be underlying the disparity. We are starting with the assumption that most of the Minneapolis officers are trying to do the right thing and aren’t fully cognizant of the extent race or ethnicity enters into their decisions, but we know there are some bad apples.”
“We haven’t seen anything like this done in the country. It’s cutting edge,” Johnson said.
More than 60 law enforcement agencies participated in the state-funded study that examined nearly 200,000 traffic stops in 2002. The study’s authors, including the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School, concluded that the numbers revealed a “strong likelihood” of racial bias in police policies and practices that probably extends statewide.
Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson has said the study did not account for variables such as the 150,000 nonresidents who come into Minneapolis daily or the increased presence of police patrols in the low-income, high-crime areas typically inhabited by minority groups. But the study noted that blacks were more likely than whites to be stopped in every Minneapolis census tract but one.