Study: Houston police stop blacks more often

May 11, 2011 2:06:45 AM PDT
Houston police officers continue to stop black motorists more often than those of any other racial or ethnic group, according to a Police Department study. About 33 percent of the 494,000 motorists stopped by Houston police in 2010 were black, while the city's overall population is 23 percent black, the department analysis showed. Hispanics made up 32 percent of the traffic stops but 44 percent of the city's population, while whites accounted for 30 percent of the traffic stops.

The disproportionate number of blacks stopped by police likely results from the high number of police calls in black neighborhoods drawing more police patrols, said Clete Snell, chairman of the criminal justice department at the University of Houston-Downtown.

"Police tend to patrol more frequently in African-American neighborhoods, and in minority neighborhoods in general, and tend to make more stops in minority neighborhoods," he told the Houston Chronicle.

Because not all stops lead to an arrest, residents in those neighborhoods may feel like they are targeted, he said.

The Houston Police Department stopped 175,000 black residents in 2010, ticketed 48 percent, issued warnings to 17 percent and released 18 percent, according to the report. About 18 percent of the white motorists stopped were arrested, while black and Hispanic motorists were each arrested at a 16 percent rate.

"If you've been pulled over by the police multiple times in a year and haven't done anything wrong, that doesn't leave a good taste in your mouth about police," Snell said.

The Rev. James Nash, pastor of the mostly black congregation at St. Paul Baptist Church, said he has complained to police officials about what seems to be undeserved police stops of black motorists. "I've always questioned why they stop so many

African-Americans, especially the young blacks," he told the Chronicle. "I guet calls all the time where officers stopped them for no apparent reason and questioned them."

City Council member C.O. Bradford, a former Houston police chief who also is black, said the department has done a "pretty good job" of reducing racially motivated stops but that the situation should continue to be monitored closely.

Load Comments