CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- The American Civil Liberties Union called a new report out of Montgomery County troubling, showing you're two times more likely to be pulled over if you're Black, compared to if you're white.
Editor's note: The ACLU initially reported that Black drivers are four times more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. In an update Thursday, the ACLU said it recalculated and determined that Black drivers were two times more likely to be pulled over than white drivers in Montgomery County. The ACLU told ABC13 it apologizes for the error.
RACIAL PROFILING REPORT SHOWS HIGH NUMBER OF BLACK DRIVERS PULLED OVER BY MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF DEPUTIES
On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office released its annual racial profiling report to county commissioners. The racial make-up of someone getting pulled over in a new report didn't come as a surprise to people who study this issue.
"Racial profiling by law enforcement in Texas is a pervasive problem," ACLU policy and advocacy strategist Nick Hudson explained.
Hudson said the issue is found in what was just released in Montgomery County.
The report showed 12% of all drivers pulled over by deputies in 2022 were Black, which is about double the county's Black population. The number of Black drivers pulled over is on the rise.
In 2019, it was 9%. A sheriff's office spokesperson pointed out more than half of the drivers pulled over were from out of the county. Hudson says the gap still shouldn't be this high.
"The numbers are certainly troubling," Hudson said. "They were troubling in 2019, and they're still troubling today. There really should be little difference in the rate of stops between white and Black folks in Montgomery County."
REPORTS SHOW OTHER AGENCIES HAD A HIGHER RATE OF PULLING OVER BLACK DRIVERS
While Montgomery County released 2022 data, the state hasn't released other local agencies yet. ABC13 did obtain 2021 figures.
In Harris County, despite about 20% of the population being Black, 34% of people pulled over by deputies are Black.
In Houston, the Black population is 23%, but Black drivers were pulled over 37% of the time. Meanwhile, the number of white drivers pulled over by HPD and HCSO was about equal to their populations.
In Fort Bend County, the Black population makes up about 20%, but Black drivers were pulled over 30% of the time. In Galveston County, the Black population is 13%, and just 9% of traffic stops involved Black drivers.
The reports also show how many times people filed racial profiling complaints. Between the agencies we shared data from, there were less than 30 complaints.
"We often see folks don't file complaints against law enforcement agencies because it's difficult to do," Hudson explained. "Often, it will require coming into the police station and signing a form and filing a complaint. That's sort of an intimidating process."
WHAT ADVOCATES SAY CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE RACIAL DISPARTITIES
Hudson says to reduce racial disparities, agencies first must acknowledge there's a problem. Next, they can use annual reports to dig deeper into numbers and look at how each officer sees the breakdown of drivers they're pulling over. Hudson says they can also look to other states.
"We think there should be less enforcement of police of traffic laws that don't implicate public safety," Hudson explained. "We've seen lots of agencies do this across the country, and it's been shown to reduce racial disparities in traffic stops."
Eyewitness News requested an interview with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. Instead, a spokesperson answered questions by email.
We requested another interview on Wednesday but were provided with more information electronically.
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