Study finds racial aspects in Miami-Dade traffic stops

Black drivers aren't targeted for stops - but once stopped, get more thorough checks, it finds.

Associated Press
Published May 3, 2005

MIAMI - There is no evidence that Miami-Dade County police officers are stopping drivers because of their race. But once pulled over, blacks are "substantially more likely" than whites or Hispanics to be interrogated, searched or have records checks done on them or their vehicles, a study released Monday concludes.

The study by the Alpert Group, a law enforcement research company, recommended more training of Miami-Dade police officers and closer monitoring of their actions on duty to identify those with questionable stop patterns.

Although they are more often searched, blacks in Miami-Dade were less likely to possess illegal items such as weapons or drugs than whites or Hispanics, the study also found.

"This study presents an opportunity for us to review and train personnel about the appropriate response," said Miami-Dade police director Robert Parker, who is black.

In examining 66,109 traffic stops, the study found no "consistent, systematic or patterned targeting" of minorities by police.

Hispanics made up 45 percent of the stops, whites almost 28 percent and blacks nearly 27 percent.

The increased number of searches of black drivers - 4.1 percent compared with 2.7 percent for whites and 2.6 percent for Hispanics - had one main cause: Officers more frequently checked for vehicle records or outstanding arrest warrants after stopping black drivers.

That led to an arrest rate of 3.7 percent for black drivers, compared with 2 percent for whites and Hispanics.