In a recent article, Missouri police have created a pattern of racial disparity in traffic stops. Over a fifteen year period, the statistics reveals a 44% increase for Blacks. Blacks can increase their safety using several strategies to survive the racial disparity in traffic stops.

According to the article, Missouri police officers were 75% more likely to stop Blacks in traffic stops when compared to Whites. Additionally, police officers were 73% more likely to search a Black driver even though Whites were 6% more likely to be found with illegal contraband. The racial disparity has continued to grow. In 2000 Black drivers were 31% more likely to be stopped. This number grew to 75% in 2014.

On a national level, the Justice Department statistics revealed that more black drivers than White and Hispanic drivers were pulled over in a traffic stop. A black driver is about 31 percent more likely to be pulled over for a traffic stop when compared to a

White driver, or about 23 percent more likely when compared to a Hispanic driver.

What is the one response that Blacks should have to a traffic stop?

Probable Cause

One response that Blacks should have to a traffic stop that could be an indication of racial disparity is to ask the officer for the probable cause. In United States criminal law, probable cause is the standard by which persons acting under the color of law has the grounds to obtain a warrant for, or as an exception to the warrant requirements for, making an arrest or conducting a personal or property search, etc. when criminal charges are being considered.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. This response serve notice that you understand your rights as a citizen and has to be included in the officers report.

What are some of the probable causes for a traffic stop?

The police cannot pull you over if they have no reason to believe that you have done something wrong. You have to be speeding, your taillight actually has to be out or you have to actually run a red light for police to have the right to stop you. The police cannot pull you over based on a general profile of a criminal suspect. Pulling over a young black male driver of a Mercedes is likely too vague to be legal, according to “The Color of Justice,” which is a criminal justice textbook on race and policing.

The police can pull you over when they believe that you have committed a crime. They can pull you over for speeding, neglecting to use a turn signal, running a red light or driving with a broken taillight. They can stop you as a courtesy or for safety concerns, such as if your trunk is open, if something hanging from your vehicle, or if something is on top of your vehicle. They can also stop you if they have received a tip with enough information about a person of vehicle that has been involved in a crime.

What is the key to responding to traffic stops that have created racial disparity in traffic?

It really depends on the time of day. If you are involved in a traffic stop in the day:

  1. Pull your car over as soon as possible
  2. Remain in the car and in your seatbelt
  3. Roll down your car window and place your hands outside the window

If you are stopped at night follow the same process. However, when you stop the car turn on the inside lights of the car. Following these instructions will eliminate the racial disparity connected to traffic stops.

Related Articles

Missouri traffic stop report reveals racial disparity

Durham police say racial makeup of traffic stops not uncommon

Civil rights groups want meeting to address racial profiling


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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