White, black, and Hispanic drivers were stopped by police around the U.S. at similar rates in 2008, but black drivers were about three times as likely as white drivers and about two times as likely as Hispanic drivers to be searched during a traffic stop, a study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. Police conducted a search of the driver or the vehicle in about five percent of traffic stops in 2008.
An estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in 2008, the report said. That was a continuing decrease in contact between police and the public, down from 19 percent of residents who had contact with the police in 2005 and 21 percent who had contact in 2002. These findings are based on the Police-Public Contact Survey, conducted every three years since 1999. The survey, a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, is a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents age 16 or older. Nearly 60,000 people participated in the most recent survey, which was conducted during the last six months of 2008.