Amid national uproar over a Texas state trooper’s treatment of Sandra Bland during a traffic stop last year, the Austin American-Statesman embarked on a comprehensive analysis of traffic stop and search data. In December, the Statesman found that African-American and Hispanic motorists were search more often when stopped, and contraband was found less often for Hispanic drivers than white drivers. There have been about 40 cases in the last five years in which officers are accused of racial profiling. The newspaper requested the dashcam videos from those incidents under the Texas Public Information Act.
While the state public safety department says it has not found evidence to support any allegations of racial profiling, some of the videos raise more questions about how the department handles those investigations than they answer about racial bias in policing. The Statesman also looked again at stop data since 2009 to study how frequently individual troopers searched motorists, and how those search rates differ by race. Analysis of 14 million traffic stop records found that 35 percent of officers studied searched minority motorists at more than twice the rate of white motorists, and most found contraband less often as a result of those searches. Austin American-Statesman