Study: Minorities pulled over as often as whites, but fare worse
WASHINGTON (AP) — Black, Hispanic and white motorists are equally likely to be pulled over by
police, but blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched, handcuffed, arrested and
subjected to force or the threat of it, a Justice Department study has found.
Based on interviews of almost 77,000 Americans age 16 or over in 2002, the study drew no
conclusions about the reasons for the racial disparities in post-stop treatment.
The data showed that black, Hispanic and white motorists were equally likely to be pulled over by
police; about 9% of each are stopped. Traffic stops were the most frequent form of police contact
with the public; an estimated 16.8 million drivers were stopped in 2002.
Summary from Department of Justice Study
• Hispanics (71.5 percent) were much more likely to be ticketed than blacks (58.4 percent) or whites
• Blacks (2.7 percent) and Hispanics (2.4 percent) were far more likely than whites (0.8 percent) to
report that police used force or the threat of it. Force was defined as when an officer pushed, grabbed,
kicked or hit a driver with a hand or object. Also included were police dog bites, chemical or pepper
spray or a firearm pointed at the driver, or the threat of any of these.
• Handcuffs were used on greater percentages of black motorists (6.4 percent) and Hispanics (5.6
percent) than whites (2 percent).
• Black and Hispanic drivers and their vehicles were much more likely to be searched than whites and
their vehicles. Black motorists were searched 8.1% of the time; Hispanics, 8.3%; whites, 2.5%. Vehicles
driven by blacks were searched 7.1% of the time; by Hispanics, 10.1%; by whites, 2.9%. The study, first
reported by The New York Times, said the interviews did not ask enough questions about
circumstances — such as whether drugs were in plain view — or about driver conduct to "answer the
question of whether the driver's race, rather than the driver's conduct or other specific circumstances,"
led to the search.
Appendix Table: Number of Survey Respondents in the 2002 Police-Public Contact Survey, by demographic characteristics of resident
|Demographic characteristic||All survey respondents||Number of persons with police contact||Number of persons against whom force was used or threatened|
|60 or older||17,187||1,841||9|
|Size of jurisdiction where resided|
|1 million or more||5,301||776||21|
Consider each of the following statements. Does the information in the three sources support the inference as stated?
"The fact that force was more likely to be used against blacks or Hispanics than whites is evidence of racial profiling, defined as when minorities are pulled over for traffic violations more frequently than whites."
"About one-fifth of all traffic stops each year end with the threat or use of force."
"The age group most likely to experience the threat or use of force during a traffic stop is the age 20-29 group."