ACLU Demands Immediate End to Racial Profiling By KY Police Department

Affiliate: ACLU of Kentucky
October 30, 2000 12:00 am

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LOUISVILLE, KY –In coalition with more than 30 community and religious organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky today demanded an end to police racial profiling practices, citing two studies by the Louisville Courier-Journal strongly suggesting that African American motorists are at least twice as likely as Caucasian motorists to be stopped by police officers.

“It’s time to put an end to Jim Crow practices in this community once and for all,” said Jeff Vessels, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky.

“These studies confirm what many have suspected all along: not only is the Louisville Police Department profiling people based on race, but even more tragically, African Americans in this community have come to expect it.”

On October 29, the Courier-Journal published the results of two its studies. In the first, the newspaper matched information from two Louisville Police Department databases. Analysis showed that the Department stopped and checked one African American driver for every 75 African Americans of driving age in Louisville, compared to one of every 163 white drivers.

The paper said that an African American motorist is about twice as likely as a white motorist to be stopped and checked for warrants. The greatest disparities occur in predominately white neighborhoods.

In the second study, the newspaper counted traffic on a well-traveled city street, documenting the observed race of more than 3,800 drivers on five days in October during the hours when most traffic stops occurred. While only 7.6 percent of the drivers were African Americans, 22 percent of those stopped were African American.

In yesterday’s newspaper story, the Chief of the Louisville Police Department questioned the studies’ methodology based on an analysis by an assistant professor of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville. However, four national experts on data collection about racial profiling said the criticisms were baseless.

Earlier this year, Kentucky’s Governor called on local law enforcement agencies to adopt policies against racial profiling. State officials also provided a model for local agencies to begin collecting data on all traffic stops to determine if racial profiling is occurring. The Louisville Police Department and every other law enforcement agency within Jefferson County chose not to participate.

City officials have said they are considering their own data collection plan. Jefferson County Police Department officials have said they have no intention of collecting traffic stop data because they are sure racial profiling is not occurring. Louisville and Jefferson County comprise about 40 percent of Kentucky’s African American population.

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