Racial profiling occurs when a judgment is made about an individual based on the color of their skin or the appearance of a specific ethnicity. It is a practice that can be performed by anyone, but in terms of statistics collection, it is a subject matter that is tracked by law enforcement officials.
The United States has held that racial profiling violates the Constitutional requirement that all people be accorded an equal protection under the law.
Not only does racial profiling offer evidence of engrained personal bias, it is often encouraged by misguided policies or incentives that promote higher arrest rates, fine rates, or other enforcement strategies.
To some, this may be a subject that is “no big deal.” These racial profiling statistics prove otherwise.
The Racial Profiling Statistics that Everyone Needs to Know
1. African-American/Black drivers are twice as likely (4.5% vs. 2.1%) to be arrested during a traffic stop. (The Leadership Conference)
2. 65% of Hispanic drivers are likely to receive a ticket during a traffic stop. This is higher than Caucasian/White drivers (56%) or African-American/Black drivers (55.8%). (The Leadership Conference)
3. Whites/Caucasians are twice more likely to receive a verbal warning for their conduct in a vehicle when compared to Blacks/African-Americans. (The Leadership Conference)
4. Blacks/African-Americans are 3 times more likely to be searched during a police stop as a motorist compared to Whites/Caucasians. Hispanics are 2.5 times more likely to be searched during a police stop compared to Whites/Caucasians. (The Leadership Conference)
5. A study of State Police conduct in Arizona showed that the highway patrol was 3.5 times more likely to search a stopped Native American and 2.5 times more likely to search a stopped African-American/Black or Hispanic individual when compared to Whites/ Caucasians. (The Leadership Conference)
6. The probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average. (Vanity Fair)
7. When factoring in threat levels, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police. (Washington Post/ Vanity Fair)
8. An analysis of lethal force used by police in 2015 found no correlation between the level of violent crime in some area and that area’s police killing rates. (Vanity Fair)
9. In San Francisco, although black people accounted for less than 15% of all traffic stops in 2015, they accounted for over 42% of all non-consent searches which occurred following the stop. Blacks/African-Americans and Hispanics also had the lowest rates of contraband recovered. (Vanity Fair)
10. African-Americans/Blacks are twice as likely as Whites/Caucasians to be searched during a vehicle stop as a driver, even after controlling for non-race variables such as the reason why the stop was initiated. They are also found to be in possession of contraband 26% less often than Whites/Caucasians. (Vanity Fair)
11. In Chicago, the city’s own data shows that Blacks/African-Americans and Hispanics were searched 4 times more often than Whites/Caucasians, but contraband was found in the possession of white drivers twice as often. (Vanity Fair)
12. In 4 states in the US, police officers are more likely to stop Black drivers for no discernible reason. They are also more likely to use force if the driver is Black, even when physical resistance is not encountered. (New York Times)
13. The NYPD conducted 4.4 million stop and frisk searches between January 2004 and June 2012 before the practice was determined to be a violation of Constitutional rights. 88% of those stop and frisk searches resulted in no further action. 83% of those who were stopped were either Black or Hispanic, even though the two groups combined make up less than half of the population in the city. (Vanity Fair)
14. Ferguson, Missouri police were found to be violating Constitutional rights by the Department of Justice, but 1,581 police departments in the United States arrest Blacks/African-Americans at rates that are even more skewed. (USA Today)
15. At least 70 police departments in the United States arrest Blacks/African-Americans at 10 times the rate they arrest people who are not black. (USA Today)
16. In Dearborn, MI about 4% of the population is not white, but people who are not white make up more than half of all the arrests which occur. From 2011-2012, Dearborn police reported arresting 4,500 individuals who were African-American/Black, which was 500 more people in that racial category than actually lived in the city. (USA Today)
17. A study in Cincinnati found that black drivers had longer stops and higher search rates than white drivers. When researchers matched stops involving black drivers with similarly situated white drivers, those who were stopped at the same time, place, and context had no differences. (NIJ)
18. A Department of Justice investigation into the Seattle Police Department found that more than half of the cases that involved unnecessary or excessive use of force involved minorities. The investigation also found that, regardless of race or ethnicity, police were using force unconstitutionally in about 1 in every 5 incidents. (Vanity Fair)
19. A governor’s task force that examined police-on-police shootings found that 90% of off-duty police officers that were killed by other police officers in a case of mistaken identity since 1982 were either Black or Latino. (New York Times)
20. In a study of police practices in Oakland, CA officers handcuffed 2,890 African-Americans/Blacks, but did not arrest them, in a 13-month period. In the same period of time, only 193 Caucasians/Whites were handcuffed without arrest. When Oakland police officers pulled over a vehicle, but didn’t arrest anyone, 72 white people were handcuffed, but so were 1,446 African-Americans/Blacks. (Washington Post)
21. In simulations, police officers take an extra 0.23 seconds on average before firing at a Black suspect compared to firing at a white suspect who is unarmed. (Washington State University)
22. In Los Angeles, the Black stop rate is 3,400 stops higher than the White stop rate, while the Hispanic stop rate was almost 360 stops higher per 10,000 residents. (The Leadership Council)
23. Relative to stopped Whites, stopped Blacks in LA were 127% more likely to be frisked and Hispanics were 43% more likely to be frisked. Blacks were also 76% more likely to be searched compared to Whites. (The Leadership Council)
24. Only 173 police departments out of 3,538 that were examined arrested Black people at a rate that was equal or lower than other racial groups. (USA Today)
Racial Profiling Trends and Analysis
Racial profiling statistics are often seen in the eye of the beholder. Yet there is plenty of research data and facts to suggest that there is a certain potential bias in policing when it comes to minority population. Many propose that this is due to a few “bad” officers.
However, the clear trend is that these instances are becoming more prominent with each passing year. This may be partly due to the increase of smart phones and social media. Today, many of these incidents are getting filmed and instantly spread across mediums like Facebook and Twitter. Thirty years ago, this was not the case.