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Latino Daily News

Wednesday December 7, 2011

Hispanic Drivers in Milwaukee 5 Times More Likely to be Pulled Over by Police than White Drivers

Hispanic Drivers in Milwaukee 5 Times More Likely to be Pulled Over by Police than White Drivers

Photo: Hispanic Drivers in Milwaukee 5 Times More Likely to be Pulled Over by Police than White Drivers

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According to a report done by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a black driver in the Milwaukee is seven times more likely to be stopped by police than his white counterpart, and a Hispanic driver is five times more likely.

Of 46,000 traffic stops, the newspaper found that police searched black drivers’ cars twice as often as white drivers’, though the searches did not lead to higher rates of seized weapons, drugs, or stolen items.

When compared to other metropolitan police departments, traffic stop data revealed Milwaukee had greater racial disparities than Charlotte, Kansas City, Raleigh, and St. Louis.

State Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) told the news source she long suspected drivers were treated differently and often unfairly by police in Milwaukee, saying, ‘Is racial profiling real? It’s like water to a fish in my world. There is a feeling, there is an understanding, an unsaid knowledge that this is part of the experience of being a person of color in Wisconsin. It feels like a standard practice in this state.’

When asked about the disparities, Police Chief Edward Flynn, said he does not dispute the findings, but that in the area, high-crime neighborhoods tend to have large minority populations.

‘I would say it’s not an unexpected consequence,’ Flynn told the Sentinel. ‘If we are going to heavily engage with those communities that are both victimized and from whence a significant majority of our offenders come, we are going to generate disparities because of where we’re physically located.’

The newspaper’s research also revealed other racial disparities when it came to traffic stops in Milwaukee:

• Milwaukee police stopped 45,703 city residents during the first four months of this year. Nearly 69% of drivers stopped were black. White drivers accounted for 16% of stops, while 14% were stops of Hispanic motorists.

• After the stop, Milwaukee police searched the vehicles of black drivers twice as often as whites, or one search for every 12 stops. But police found contraband items in searches involving black drivers at almost the same rate as whites - about 22% of the time.

• Black and Hispanic drivers were arrested at twice the rate of whites after getting stopped, with white drivers being issued traffic citations at a lower rate than black or Hispanic drivers and were let off with written or oral warnings more often.

• Police stopped black and Hispanic drivers about five times as often as white drivers solely for equipment violations.