An Illinois traffic study on who gets pulled over by police shows once again that minorities are more likely to be the subject of so-called consent searches although police are more likely to find contraband in the vehicles of white drivers, reports the Chicago Tribune. The results of the annual state study were not a surprise to civil rights activists who are opposed to the searches, which are done with the consent of the driver. The 2008 study found that when a vehicle of a white driver was “consent-searched,” officers statewide found contraband 24.7 percent of the time. When a vehicle driven by a minority was searched, officers found contraband 15.4 percent of the time.
“The fact is every single year we see these same numbers,” said Ed Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There is just a predisposition to believe minorities have contraband.” On Wednesday night, President Obama alluded to his work on the legislation that led to the Illinois traffic stops when he discussed the racially charged arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge, Ma. In Illinois, there are very few consent searches — about 1 percent of all traffic stops — and they have declined by about 30 percent since 2004 when the first Illinois study was done.