Denver records show that blacks, who make up less than 12 percent of the population, are pulled over proportionally far more than whites on “nonmoving” violations, such as a broken taillight or suspicious activity, reports the Denver Post. Police say suspicious activity can include people gathered around a parked car. The data come from a report issued by Denver police in October 2002 that includes statistics from June 1, 2001, through May 31, 2002. At the time, police acknowledged that they were more likely to search black and Hispanic pedestrians than they were whites, but officials insisted that the department did not engage in racial profiling.
The total number of traffic stops for both moving and nonmoving infractions reveals little racial disparity in Denver. The interpretation of the statistics scheduled tonight on “Dateline NBC” was strongly contested by police officials. “The Denver Police Department does not consider that this report shows there is a problem with racial profiling,” said Lt. Steven Carter. Mayor John Hickenlooper agreed, saying police chief Gerry Whitman enforces a “zero tolerance” policy for biased policing among his officers.
The police database shows that of all traffic stops made during the year of study, more than 48 percent of all drivers pulled over in 153,652 moving and nonmoving cases were white. Hispanics made up more than 31 percent of the stops and blacks close to 17 percent of stops.