Chris Powell: Profiling -- traffic stops are the least of our racial disproportions

Published on Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:48
Written by Chris Powell

Columnist

Another report by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project has some police departments squirming or steaming because their traffic stops snare a bigger proportion of drivers from racial minorities than the proportion of minorities who live in the towns being policed.

While the survey always implies that many police officers are racist, it actually means little, for two reasons.

First, the survey accurately measures only the racial composition of a town’s residents, not the racial composition of its drivers, which is only estimated. For example, while the survey impugns the Wethersfield police, they note that the proportion of minority drivers in their town is greater than the proportion of minority residents there because many minority residents of adjacent Hartford visit the state motor vehicles and labor department offices in Wethersfield..

Second, and more important, is the old association of race, poverty, and crime, which no one in authority in Connecticut wants to discuss, since it would hint at the chronic failure of the state’s poverty and educational policies. That is, crime itself long has disproportionately involved racial minorities, and while getting stopped for “driving while black” is annoying, complaining about it will be laughable as long as racial minorities constitute about three-quarters of Connecticut’s prison population. Some of that disproportion may arise from racism in the criminal-justice system but most of it does not.

State government dares to inquire into racial disproportions in traffic stops but not in arrests, convictions, and imprisonments -- not in the matters that involve the impairment and even the destruction of lives. For while the former sort of inquiry is politically correct, the latter sort of inquiry would be politically explosive.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:48. Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:50.