Racial disparities in Rhode Island traffic searches that don’t end in arrest increased have steadily increased for Providence and state police, according to an ACLU analysis of traffic stop data released earlier this year.
“This most recent analysis indicates that the racial disparities in discretionary searches are not only continuing, but in many cases increasing,” according to an ACLU press release. “Of the ten Rhode Island police departments that stopped more than 2,000 individuals and/or engaged in more than 100 discretionary searches in 2004-2005, the data indicates that nine have seen a subsequent increase in the racial disparity of such searches.”
The ACLU analysis is based from a comprehensive study of every traffic stop in Rhode Island in 2013. You can read the entire report here. The ACLU focused this time on discretionary searches, or police searches of vehicles that do not lead to arrest.
“Ten years since racial profiling was prohibited by law, this data is both alarming and disheartening. Black and Hispanic drivers remain disproportionately searched by law enforcement, even though Northeastern University’s analysis demonstrates that white drivers are more likely to be found with contraband when searched,” said ACLU policy analyst Hillary Davis in the press release. “As a result, these searches are both discriminatory and ineffective. A decade’s worth of conversations between law enforcement and the community have not resolved these disparities, and it is time for law enforcement to employ new means to ensure Rhode Islanders receive equal treatment in their interactions with the police.”