Study shows racial disparities in traffic stops - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Study shows racial disparities in traffic stops

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Nicole Gerber

ngerber@abc6.com

@nicolegerber

Getting behind the wheel of a car can be stressful enough, but for minorities in Rhode Island it could mean the difference between a smooth ride and a run–in with an officer.

That's according to the latest study conducted by the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University, commissioned by RIDOT.

It found that in Rhode Island minorities are more likely to be pulled over but less likely to receive a citation.

"That to me says that the few police officers that are doing that are trying to sweep it under the rug as though it never happened. So, if there's no citation then where's the crime?" asked Leah Williams Metts, executive board of the NAACP and Chairwoman of the NAACP Youth Council.

The study also shows that in the majority of Rhode Island communities when pulled over minority drivers are more likely to be searched than their Caucasian counterparts.

Last year's numbers show a smaller racial disparity than in previous years, but some say that more still needs to be done.

"I definitely believe that we need some more minority people on board in every aspect of safety, safety relations," said Metts.

And in addition, RIDOT is asking police departments to continue collecting traffic stop information.

"We're working with the advisory committee, which includes law enforcement and community groups, on how long that period should be. Is it another 4 months? Is it another 6 months? And that, we stand ready to work with them on that," said RIDOT Executive Director Michael Lewis.

The study examined traffic stops between January 1st and September 30th of last year.

Click here to read the full report.

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