"GREENSBORO, NC (Dec. 15, 2015) – Thirty days after Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott issued a special order directing patrol officers to suspend stopping vehicles for minor equipment infractions and focus on foot patrols through neighborhoods, the impact on racial disparity on traffic stops is still unclear.
“On one hand, the data is as we expected,” stated Scott. “The number of total traffic stops has declined and the gap in racial disparity in stops has narrowed.”
During the initial 30-day period of the special order, the total number of stops declined by 32% compared to the same period last year, and stops for vehicle equipment violations decreased by 88%.
Between Nov. 11 and Dec. 10, officers throughout the city conducted 1,157 traffic stops. Black motorists were stopped 566 times, compared to whites who pulled over in ten less instances. Historically, traffic stops for vehicle equipment infarctions accounted for approximately 12% of all traffic stops. This type of stop also accounts for the largest disparity between black and white motorists.
“On the other hand, we still need to determine is the root cause – or causes – of the disparity,” Scott said. “The numbers tell us only what happened. The numbers don’t tell us why it happened.”
Although the preliminary numbers show that the racial disparity in traffic stops across the city has narrowed, a closer look at the data points out some trends that deserve further scrutiny.
For instance, the time of day and locations of the traffic stops result in racial disparities in the data.
“These are just two examples of the many factors that can influence who gets pulled over,” explained Scott. “This is a complex issue that requires in-depth study.”
The Greensboro Police Department expects a full analysis of traffic stop data in late January or early February. The data is being evaluated by two academic researchers hired by the department in August. The researchers were contracted to analyze the department’s traffic stop data in greater detail, compare the results to recently-published reports, and provide findings of possible underlying relationships between the enforcement actions and societal factors.
During the first 30 days of the special order, traffic stops for seat belt use, speeding, and movement violations remained consistent with previous rates."
A Press Release