Black Arizona motorists are stopped and searched for drugs by police at a disproportionately higher rate than white motorists, says the Arizona Daily Sun. Attorneys for minority motorists on Interstate 40 in Coconino County contend the disparity is due to illegal racial profiling. The Arizona Department of Public Safety says many other factors besides racial profiling, such as driver behavior, could account for the disparity. The Arizona Supreme Court could decide that racial profiling can be raised in criminal drug cases as a way to get charges dropped or evidence thrown out. If the court says criminal defendants must raise racial profiling in separate civil lawsuits, then the issue likely is dead in Arizona.
That’s because the state, which denies its officers engage in racial profiling, is close to settling a class-action lawsuit that has it improving the collection of traffic stop information so that it can identify and respond quickly if statistics point to racial profiling.