Latinos, Blacks Have Vehicles Searched Twice as Much by New London PD


The Day of New London has determined that Latinos and blacks pulled over by police are more likely to have their vehicles searched than whites. The newspaper combed police records to make the determination.
In the story, The Day reported minorities accounted for 3,029 traffic stops in 2011 and were searched 203 times, or 6.7 percent of the time. White drivers were pulled over 4,429 times and searched 149 times, or 3.4 percent of the time. Blacks who were stopped had the highest rate of searches (8 percent), with Hispanics next at 5.4 percent.
The story makes it clear that Latinos and blacks are not stopped disproportionately. Whites made up more than 58 percent of the stops with Latinos and blacks at 20 percent each approximately.
“Each one of those searches – out of anybody who’s searched – you have to take it as an individual case and find out what the reason for the search was for,” Acting Police Chief Peter Reichard told The Day. “It’s not just a random car stop: ‘I’m gonna search this guy and try to find something on him.’ You’re not allowed to do that, the Constitution won’t allow you to do that. We operate within the Constitution of the United States and the State of Connecticut.”
Donald Wilson, the New London NAACP chapter president, told The Day he wasn’t surprised that vehicles driven by minorities are searched more often. “What the data really tells us is that the police are making stops for whatever reason, and based on engagement with the individual, if you’re white, there’s a 90 percent chance they engage you in conversation and give you a ticket or whatever and let you go,” he said. “But if you’re a minority, the police will engage you in conversation, and somehow that conversation is going to lead to a search.
The article also reported while the racial makeup of drivers in the city on any given day is unknown, minorities don’t appear to be over-represented in traffic stops when compared to the most recent U.S.Census data. Whites, who make up 49 percent of the city’s population, represented more than 58 percent of the traffic stops. Latinos, who make up 28 percent of the population, and blacks, who are 17 percent of the population, represented 21 percent and 19 percent of the stops, respectively.