New Urbana traffic-stop data shows blacks most affected

New Urbana traffic-stop data shows blacks most affected

URBANA — The police department released an Illinois Department of Transportation report this week detailing traffic-stop data in a city grappling with racial tensions.

It comes after the city council's traffic-stop data task force finished its research at the end of 2015, finding that black drivers are stopped disproportionately more than drivers of other races. The new report brings similar results.

The report says the best benchmark for identifying which races make up the Urbana driving population is the amount of accidents each racial group is involved in. Using that benchmark, it found a disparity in traffic stops affecting blacks the most, then Hispanics and Asians.

One recommendation the report makes is for a check box to be added to the traffic citation or warning so motivation for a stop can be recorded.

The report was presented at this week's council meeting. In September, Alderman Aaron Ammons clashed with police Chief Pat Connolly and other aldermen when he proposed a motion to prohibit police stops conducted for investigatory purposes only. It was not approved.

"Black people are tired of getting stopped all the time," Ammons said.

"Saying 'don't enforce the law' is not a logical answer," Connolly responded, stressing a need for fair and balanced policing.

There were no clashes at this week's meeting, with aldermen agreeing that they needed more time to process and understand the report before they could discuss it.

The report found from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 of this year, 72 percent of traffic stops were motivated by "traffic issue," 24 percent were motivated by "community caretaking" and 4 percent were motivated by "targeted patrol."

With total results limited to the period from Jan. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2016, the report details that there were 47,666 traffic stops. Of those stops, 2,821 ended in arrest.

And of those arrests, 57 percent were black drivers; 30 percent were white; 11 percent were Hispanic; and 2 percent were Asian.

There were 109 arrests arising from traffic stops in 2015 and 50 through Sept. 30 this year.

Among the report's other recommendations for tracking future traffic stops:

— Drivers stopped multiple times in a specified period should continue to be tracked regularly and reported to command staff.

— Continue compiling the number of traffic stops and drivers' races by year.

— Continue to track traffic-stop disparities using the accident-based benchmark.

— Continue monitoring changes over time, especially with equipment and license/registration violations.

— Complete additional analysis for racial disparity in arrests.

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CommonSenseless wrote on November 10, 2016 at 10:11 am

I would like to see a well reasoned argument for using accident demographics to represent driving demographics..... I see a major hole in that logic. What definition are they using for accident, only when police are involved?

Chambanacitizen wrote on November 10, 2016 at 11:11 am

You conveniently didn't tell us your race. Not stopped in 40yrs? Let me guess... white?

BruckJr wrote on November 10, 2016 at 9:11 pm

How many were male?

Trench5800 wrote on November 11, 2016 at 7:11 am

We expect our law enforcement to be proactive, not reactive. A reactive police force is an ineffective one. Right now, C-U is in the midst of a crisis centering around gun violence, seemingly perpetrated by young adult black males in lower socioeconomic areas of the city. With that said, does it NOT make sense for law enforcement to target the problem areas?

If black males are stopped at a higher frequency than other demographics, I would surmise that local law enforcement is making the higher crime areas of the city a priority (i.e. targeted patrols) and being PROACTIVE--not racist. The most obvious solution is usually the correct one. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that pretextual stops are constitutional (Whren v. U.S.). 

jcwconsult wrote on November 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

A key item to reduce this problem is to get ALL traffic laws and their enforcement procedures based on safety, NEVER on revenue.  Among other things, this means setting almost all posted speed limits at the safest points - the 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions, rounded to the nearest 5 mph interval.  Example: If 85% of the cars are at or below 43 to 47 mph, then the safest limit to post is 45 mph - NOT 40 or 35 or lower.  Far too many speed limits in such areas are set at 35 or 30 or even 25 to create lucrative speed traps for revenue.  Also, ALL traffic lights must have yellow intervals timed for the ACTUAL perception/reaction times and ACTUAL approach speeds of at least 85% of the drivers (safest timing method) - NOT about 1 second shorter to create red light camera revenue traps.

See our website for a lot of information about how traffic rules would be set IF safety was the goal.

Also google for "Ruling Out the Rule of Law" by Prof. Kim Forde-Mazrui for a legal article on this.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association