Black, Hispanic, and white drivers are equally likely to be pulled over by police, but blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched and arrested, says a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study reported by the Associated Press. Police were much more likely to threaten or use force gainst blacks and Hispanics than against whites in any encounter, whether at a traffic stop or elsewhere. The study covered police contacts with the public during 2005 and was based on interviews by the Census Bureau with nearly 64,000 people age 16 or over.
“The numbers are very consistent” with those found in a similar 2002 study, said. BJS statistician Matthew Durose. Traffic stops have become a politically volatile issue. Minority groups have complained that many stops and searches are based on race rather than on legitimate suspicions. Blacks have complained of being pulled over for simply “driving while black.” “The available data is sketchy but deeply concerning,” said Hilary Shelton of the NAACP’s Washington bureau. The civil rights organization has done its own surveys of traffic stops; he said the racial disparities grow larger, the deeper the studies delve.