Study reveals racial discrepancy in Evanston police searches following traffic stops

The Daily Northwestern CloseA new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put Evanston police among the highest black to white search ratios.Daily file photo by Zack LaurenceDaily file photo by Zack LaurenceA new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put Evanston police among the highest black to white search ratios. David Fishman, Assistant City EditorMarch 7, 2017
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Evanston police were seven times more likely to search a black driver than a white one in 2014, according to a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study, which analyzed traffic stops from 132 police agencies across 16 states, found that Evanston police consistently had the highest black to white search ratio of any other department. Evanston police in 2009 were also roughly 11 times more likely to search a Hispanic driver than a white one.
“A white driver has a very low chance of being searched, and a driver of color has a really high chance,” said political science Prof. Frank Baumgartner, who led the study. “It’s astounding; that’s an astronomical difference. There’s no other jurisdiction in the country with numbers like that.”
Baumgartner said he conducted the study based on traffic stop data made available by various police agencies across the country. Out of the 16 states included, he said, Illinois had one of the most “robust” and complete data sets.
Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said the study represented only a small piece of a larger “dynamic and complex” crime picture in the city. Between 2009 to 2014 — the time period used with regard Evanston by the study — he said police were trying to stop an ongoing “gang conflict” in which most of the people involved were “minority individuals.” Dugan said he believes the conflict partially accounted for the racial discrepancy in searches.
“This one particular data set does …


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