The number of complaints from motorists alleging that New Jersey state troopers pulled over vehicles simply because of a driver’s race fell last year to its lowest level since the state agreed racial profiling was “real, not imagined” in 1999, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The state police received 85 complaints in 2006 that troopers had profiled by stopping motorists based solely on their race, ethnicity, gender or other stereotyping, according to statistics provided to The Star-Ledger under the state Open Public Records Act. It was fewest since the State Police received 78 complaints in 1999 — the same year the state agreed to court-ordered reforms aimed at eradicating racial profiling. Profiling complaints to the State Police had averaged more than 100 a year since 1999. There were 106 in 2005.
Following a decade-old pattern, internal affairs detectives did not substantiate a single allegation of racial profiling. State officials acknowledge racial profiling is difficult to prove. Troopers conducted 521,967 motor-vehicle stops during 2006. William Buckman, a lawyer who has represented victims of racial profiling, asserted that, “In reality, profiling still exists.” A panel appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine is studying whether the state should seek to lift the court-supervised monitoring instituted after the 1998 shooting of unarmed minority motorists by two troopers during a stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. The U.S. Justice Department says the monitoring is no longer needed.