ACLU of Rhode Island executive director Steven Brown released the following the statement on the Rhode Island Traffic Stop Statistics Data Collection Study. The report includes data for all local police departments and State Police. It is available here.
“The ACLU has not had time to examine in depth the detailed report that has been issued today, but the broad strokes are, unfortunately, all too familiar to anybody concerned about the problem of racial profiling in the state.
“Despite claims of improvement, the latest study of traffic stop data in Rhode Island presents the same old story: in most communities, racial minorities, as a percentage of the driving population, remain more likely than whites to be stopped by police. And once again we learn that, once stopped, racial minorities in most communities are more likely to be subject to discretionary searches, but less likely to be found with contraband. Every study conducted in Rhode Island, since the first one over a decade ago, has reached these same conclusions.
“The report notes that there has been improvement in the statistics in some departments, but that disparities have increased in others. Yet rather than focus on concrete attempts to address this nagging problem, the study’s major recommendation is for police departments to analyze the statistics and have conversations with the community about the issue. The report doesn’t even call on departments to consider making changes to practices that are unnecessarily leading to widespread racial disparities.
“At this point, asking police departments to more carefully examine the data rather than take concrete steps provides little solace to those who bear the brunt of questionable traffic stops and searches every day. The passage of strong and comprehensive legislation designed to address the problem of racial profiling will not solve this deeply-entrenched problem, but it would go a long ways towards addressing it and confronting the legitimate grievances of the minority community.”