LINCOLN, Neb. — A report from the Nebraska Crime Commission said the disproportionate percentage of black drivers pulled over by Lincoln police has climbed during the last five years, even as police officials focused more on the problem.
Black drivers accounted for about one in every 10 motorists pulled over last year, even though black residents account for slightly more than 4 percent of the city’s population. The report shows other racial groups were stopped in numbers comparable to their populations, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/2pNrmLD ) reported.
The report released in March highlighted the racial disparities among traffic stops for agencies like the Lincoln Police Department, but it doesn’t give an explanation behind them.
Police officials denied racial profiling drives the disparity, and said the department investigates complaints of racial profiling, trains officers on implicit and maintains a strict hiring process to eliminate bigots.
Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said the department’s own research shows economic factors and police patrol realities are the reason for the high numbers in the report. But he acknowledged: “We recognize bias does exist within all of us, including employees of the Lincoln Police Department.”
Dale Hayes, a black man from Lincoln, is skeptical of arguments that the traffic stop disparity isn’t due to racial profiling. He said he has been pulled over 35 times since he moved to Lincoln in 1973. Hayes said he’s never been arrested or charged, but has had several experiences with police that stirred his suspicion.
Although black and white motorists are ticketed at comparable rates in Lincoln, black drivers are arrested and taken to jail more often when pulled over, according to police data.
Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady said that black drivers are also over-represented in arrest warrants because the warrants are for offenses such as failing to appear in court of failure to pay a fine.
The state commission has been tracking data on racial breakdowns of traffic stops and the results since 2001.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com