Police Searches More Likely For Minority Drivers In Springfield

Aug 13, 2014

Credit flickr/JasonRojas

A new report finds signs of racial bias in data collected about police searches during traffic stops in Illinois.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released the report Wednesday.   It suggests police are nearly twice as likely to ask blacks and Latino drivers to consent to vehicle searches during traffic stops than they are to ask whites. But white drivers are about 50 percent more likely to have contraband found during such a search. 

Springfield numbers are similar to the statewide findings. 

According to the Springfield police, minority drivers are asked to consent to a search about 8% of the time they are stopped.  White drivers, less than 3%. 

The analysis is based on figures reported by law enforcement agencies during 2013 under the Illinois Traffic Stop Statistical Study Act.  
Adam Schwartz of ACLU says the figures are ``troubling'' and the situation ``must be addressed.'' 

Minorities amount to about 20% of drivers on the road in Springfield.  But they account for 42% of all stops.  African American and Latino drivers are also stopped at a higher rate by Sangamon County Sheriff's deputies.

Read the breakdown for all Illinois police departments here.