Police play an important role in working to protect and serve the public, yet abuses of police power continue to be a problem in Rhode Island and nationwide, particularly in low-income communities and in communities of color. Years of traffic stop data in Rhode Island have demonstrated consistently that black and Hispanic drivers are twice as likely as white drivers to be stopped by police and searched, while white drivers are more likely to be found with contraband when searched. The ACLU of Rhode Island has worked for many years as a part of a diverse coalition to advocate for the passage of comprehensive legislation to prevent racial profiling. The ACLU also works on various other police misconduct issues, such as those surrounding stop-and-frisk tactics, surveillance, brutality, and the withholding of public police records from citizens.
The ACLU of Rhode Island recently released a report, "The School-To-Prison Pipeline In Black And White," offers a brief but systematic examination of racial disparities in Rhode Island, and how those interconnected disparities can lead to a lifetime of unequal treatment. The report highlights numerous disparities, including those in traffic stop and search rates and arrest rates.