A Chicago Police Department vehicle (Wikimedia Commons)
A new study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois supports what has long been suspected: that there is a racial disparity in Chicago traffic stops that disproportionately affects Black drivers.
The study is based on an analysis of 100,676 traffic stops conducted by the Chicago Police Department in 2013. It found that Black people, who make up about a third of the Windy City’s population, made up about 46 percent of the traffic stops. White people are about 32 percent of the city’ s population and comprised about 27 percent of the police stops. Yet, police officers found narcotics and other contraband at a higher rate in vehicles driven by the Whites they stopped.
Interestingly, Hispanics, who are 29 percent of Chicago’s population, made up only 22 percent of stops. However, like Black people, Hispanics were more likely than Whites to have their vehicles searched during such stops.
The study also notes that Blacks were stopped by police more often in neighborhoods that are predominantly-white.
“Black motorists are being stopped far more likely than we would expect,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior staff counsel for the ACLU of Illinois. “We think that tends to show that police have different tests when deciding who to stop and who to search.”
Meanwhile, according to police department spokesman Marty Maloney, law enforcement has been working to improve relations with residents — particularly in predominantly-Black areas of the city. He told The Chicago Tribune that the police department is committed to putting an end to any shred of racial profiling. He added that the department has required that its 12,000 officers receive training on “procedural justice,” which centers around techniques on how to better treat the public. The training efforts “have led to a 15 percent decrease in complaints against officers over the last two years,” Maloney contended.