A new report on traffic stops in San Diego shows that police sometimes treat black and Hispanic drivers differently from white drivers, particularly after a stop has been made, mirroring the findings of other studies from around the U.S., reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Those studies have provided data-driven evidence to support or refute what many minority communities say has long been a problem: that they are disproportionately targeted and harassed by police. Most police departments, including San Diego’s, maintain that the vast majority of officers do their jobs without overt bias against members of any particular race or ethnicity. Some law enforcement officials have also acknowledged that unconscious bias is a factor and are now taking part in training that aims to address it.
A study by Stanford University researchers led by Jennifer Eberhardt, an expert on racial bias and its consequences, analyzed data from more than 28,000 traffic and pedestrian stops in Oakland between April 2013 and April 2014 and found police there were far more likely to stop and search African Americans than white people. In North Carolina, where a study focused on traffic stops by Durham police, researchers found that black male drivers were more likely to be pulled over than whites, but there was no disparity among women drivers. In Connecticut, black or Hispanic drivers were more likely to get pulled over and searched than white drivers. San Diego paid researchers at San Diego State University $62,500 to examine traffic stop records by police over two years and found that black drivers were stopped more often than whites in 2014. The disparities were more pronounced for drivers under 25. Data from both years showed that black and Hispanic drivers were more likely to be searched after a traffic stop than whites but were less likely to be found with contraband.