Houston police say race plays no part in who they stop on the road, but a long-standing trend of more black residents being stopped than any other racial or ethnic group continued last year, reports the Houston Chronicle. In 2010, black residents represented 33 percent of the 494,000 people stopped by Houston police, while the city’s black population last year was 23 percent.
Criminal justice experts say traffic stops are driven by criminal incidents and not the racial makeup of motorists, and has more to do with deploying officers to low-income neighborhoods based on high volumes of calls for service. Clete Snell, who chairs the criminal justice department at the University of Houston-Downtown, said, “Police tend to patrol more frequently in African-American neighborhoods, and in minority neighborhoods in general, and tend to make more stops in minority neighborhoods” Because not all stops lead to an arrest, residents in those neighborhoods feel they’re being targeted, Snell said. Houston Police stopped 175,000 black residents in 2010 and released 18 percent, ticketed 48 percent and gave warnings to 17 percent.