The Austin Police Department recently released a racial profiling report indicating that when police officers pulled over black and Hispanic drivers in 2018, they were twice as likely to search them and their vehicles for contraband, as compared to white drivers whom they pulled over. Overall, officers searched only 6% of white drivers during traffic stops, as opposed to 14% of Hispanic drivers and 17% of black drivers.
Nonetheless, of the drivers whom police officers searched, Hispanic and black drivers were only slightly more likely to be in possession of contraband. These searches resulted in police finding contraband about 30% of the time, regardless of the driver’s race. More specifically, the rates of finding contraband were 27% for white drivers, 30% of Hispanic drivers, and 31% of black drivers during traffic stops.
This report is in line with previous reports from the Austin Police Department. In 2017, for example, the report showed that police officers searched Hispanic drivers whom they pulled over twice as often as white drivers, and black drivers three times as often as white drivers.
According to the police chief, part of these numbers may be that the department assigns more officers to part of the city with high crime rates. These same areas tend to be less affluent neighborhoods with disproportionately higher numbers of minorities. As a result, more traffic stops tend to occur in these same areas, which may give rise to some of the reasoning behind the searches of drivers pulled over during traffic stops.
The Austin Police Department has taken steps in recent years to put all officers through fairness and impartiality training in order recognize and address biases. The Department also provides ongoing training to ensure as much racial equity as possible. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges involving bribery. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.