New Report Shows Texas Police More Likely to Stop Blacks and Latinos

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
February 24, 2005 12:00 am

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Texas Report is Largest Racial Profiling Study Conducted in U.S.

AUSTIN, TX — A new study released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and other civil rights groups reveals that Texas police stop and search blacks and Latinos at significantly higher rates than whites, even though whites are at least as likely to be found with illegal drugs or weapons when stopped by police.

The study, called “Don’t Mind If I Take a Look, Do Ya?,” examines data from over 1,000 police and sheriff’s departments across Texas, representing the largest set of racial profiling data ever collected in the country. The report was commissioned by the ACLU of Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches.

“Police leadership must either demonstrate how these disparities are caused by legitimate search practices or take swift steps to reduce disparities and bias within their departments,” says Will Harrell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas.

The study found that 2 out of 3 agencies reported searching blacks or Latinos at higher rates than whites, and most of those agencies searched blacks or Latinos at substantially greater levels (over 50 percent more often) than whites.

Researchers also discovered that blacks and Latinos were more likely to be subjected to consent searches, in which an officer lacks probable cause or a legal justification to search (such as a warrant), but uses discretion to determine when to conduct a search. Results from consent searches show that officers, when given a choice, choose to search blacks and Latinos at significantly higher rates as well. Approximately 60 percent of departments reported consent-searching blacks and Latinos at higher rates. Additionally, the report looked at contraband finds, or “hit rates,” resulting from these searches. The findings indicate that whites were at least as likely as blacks or Latinos to be found with illegal goods when searched — yet are targeted at much lower rates for investigation and enforcement.

“This data shows that when police are given the choice to search without cause, we are targeted even though we are no more likely to be found with drugs,” says Gary Bledsoe of the NAACP. “Consent searches are only a tool for biased, ineffective law enforcement and should be banned.”

Ana Yáñez Correa, Legislative Liaison for Texas League of United Latin American Citizens, agreed. “Law enforcement owes us a serious explanation. We want answers – not empty rhetoric. The Latino community is tired of being targeted without cause.”

The report and additional materials, including local fact sheets, are available online at

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