Racial Profiling In Texas: Report Shows Significant Disparities In Stops And Searches

February 3, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Six out of every seven law enforcement agencies in Texas reported searching blacks and Latinos at higher rates than Anglos following a traffic stop, according to a groundbreaking report released today.

The report, “Racial Profiling: Texas traffic stops and searches” is the nation’s largest survey on racial profiling. Data was collected from over 400 police and sheriff’s departments across Texas, and includes several million police-civilian contacts.

Its release comes just weeks before Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Representatives Chris Shays (R-CT) and John Conyers (D-MI) will introduce the End Racial Profiling Act, or ERPA. Civil rights organizations are calling on U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both republicans from Texas, to take a stand on racial profiling and support this legislation.

“This report suggests that police in Texas are not only racially profiling, but are also policing in an inefficient, ineffective way,” said Will Harrell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas. “In some departments, more than 95 percent of Latinos searched did not do anything wrong yet they suffered the humiliation and demoralization of a search that only wastes an officer’s time.”

In some departments, blacks and Latinos were subjected to consent searches at significantly higher rates than Anglos, despite the fact that Anglos were either equally likely or more likely to be found with drugs and weapons during those searches.

ERPA would ban racial profiling at all levels of law enforcement, and make efforts to eliminate the practice a condition of law enforcement agencies receiving federal money. It would provide grants to police departments for data collection systems and training to prevent racial profiling. Those harmed by racial profiling would be able to bring legal challenges to end the practice, and the Attorney General would regularly report to Congress on the results of data collection.

“The disparities represented in this report show that federal legislation is needed to address racial profiling,” said LaShawn Y. Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Unless the federal government makes racial profiling illegal, it will undoubtedly continue. If Congress is serious about confronting and correcting racial profiling across the nation, it will adopt the passage the End Racial Profiling Act of 2004.

The report was commissioned by the Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches.

To review the report, go to:

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