Louisiana Police Label Hispanic Drivers ‘White’ to Hide Racial Bias: Report

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Across America, law enforcement agencies have been accused of targeting Hispanic drivers, failing to collect data on those traffic stops, and covering up potential officer misconduct and aggressive immigration enforcement by identifying people as white on tickets, reports ProPublica. Of the almost 80,000 tickets that the Louisiana State Police handed out in Jefferson Parish, which has the largest Hispanic population in the state, over nearly six years, not a single one was issued to a person labeled as Hispanic. Of the more than 73,000 traffic tickets the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office issued between 2015 and September 2020, deputies identified only six of the cited people as Hispanic.

While Hispanic is an ethnicity, more than 80 percent of law enforcement agencies use it as a race when collecting information from drivers during traffic stops, according to a sample of 69 departments studied by one expert on racial profiling. The most common interaction between citizens and police, traffic stops present the most opportunities for abuse and misconduct and failure to track and analyze traffic stop data has the potential to mask racial profiling. Over the last decade, similar allegations of discriminatory practices against Hispanic communities have prompted the Department of Justice to investigate law enforcement agencies in states including North Carolina, Connecticut, Arizona, Louisiana, and New York. According to the Policing Project at NYU, only 22 states and Washington, D.C., require the collection of data on traffic stops. These discrepancies have prompted some states to end police enforcement of certain traffic violations in an effort to reduce potential violence. See also: Rethinking Police Traffic Stops, The Crime Report, Sept. 10, 2021

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