My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Driving While Black????

This is a similar story to the Kingston Police study, which really showed no racism at all...but everybody assumed that it did.
The New York Times’s bad faith regarding the police has reached a new low. On August 24, a front-page article claimed that the Justice Department had tried to suppress damning evidence of racial profiling by the nation’s police forces. In fact, it is the Times that is suppressing evidence.

For years, activists have argued that some drivers face a heightened risk of being stopped by bigoted cops. David Harris, a University of Toledo law professor and ubiquitous police critic, provided a classic statement of the “Driving While Black” conceit in 1999: “Anyone who is African-American is automatically suspect during every drive to work, the store, or a friend’s house.” Owing to this “automatic suspicion,” Harris posited in his 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice, “pretextual stops will be used against African-Americans and Hispanics . . . out of proportion to their numbers in the driving population.”

The “Driving While Black” belief is pervasive, powerful, and false. According to a survey of 80,000 civilians conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (an arm of the Justice Department) in 2002, an identical proportion of white, black, and Hispanic drivers - 9 percent - were stopped by the police in the previous year. And the stop rate for blacks was lower during the day, when officers can more readily determine a driver’s race, than at night. These results demolish the claim that minorities are disproportionately subject to “pretextual stops.”

Clearly, these findings should be news of a high order - so that must be why the Times buried them in paragraph 11 of its front-page story (and omitted the day-night disparity entirely). But not only did the Times conceal the study’s import, it also had the temerity to spin the survey as confirming the racial-profiling myth. Indeed, the BJS study will “add grist to the debate over using racial and ethnic data in law enforcement,” the newspaper asserted, because it provided evidence of “the aggressive police treatment of black and Hispanic drivers.”

What is this evidence for racist policing, in the paper’s view? The Times bases its charge on two findings from the survey: According to driver self-reports, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to have their persons or cars searched than white drivers, and were more likely to be subjected to the threat or use of force by the officer who stopped them. The survey defines force as pushing, grabbing, or hitting; a typical force incident, characterized by the survey respondent as “excessive,” consisted of an officer grabbing the respondent by the arm as he was fleeing the scene and pushing him against his car. Specifically, black drivers said that they or their cars were searched 10.2 percent of the time following a stop, Hispanic drivers 11.4 percent of the time, and white drivers 3.5 percent of the time. As for police threats or use of force, 2.4 percent of Hispanic drivers, 2.7 percent of black drivers, and 0.8 percent of white drivers claimed that force had been threatened or used against them.

None of these findings establishes prejudicial treatment of minorities. The Times, for instance, does not reveal that blacks and Hispanics were far more likely to be arrested following a stop: Blacks were 11 percent of all stopped drivers, but 24 percent of all arrested drivers; Hispanics, 9.5 percent of all stopped drivers, but 18.4 percent of all arrested drivers; and whites, 76.5 percent of all stopped drivers, but 58 percent of arrested drivers. The higher black and Hispanic arrest rates undoubtedly result from their higher crime rates. The national black murder rate, for example, is seven times higher than that of all other races combined, and the black robbery rate eight times higher. Though the FBI does not keep national crime data on Hispanics, local police statistics usually put the Hispanic crime rate between the black and white crime rates. These differential crime rates mean that when the police run a computer search on black and Hispanic drivers following a stop, they are far more likely to turn up outstanding arrest warrants than for white drivers.