Liberal Media Stoke Unproven Assumptions Behind 'Driving While Black'

A recent article in the Charlotte Observer reported, “Researchers at N.C. State and N.C. Central universities say an exhaustive study shows there is ‘no systemic bias’ at work when state Highway Patrol troopers stop motorists along North Carolina’s roadsides. . . researchers also note that black drivers are slightly more likely to be stopped and given citations than white or other drivers–perhaps the result of individual trooper bias or possibly reasons unrelated to racial bias.”

This study confirms the findings of previous inquiries which fail to corroborate the claim that Driving While Black (DWB) is a real phenomenon. It has never been more than an allegation–one that required more study. Yet, the media and “civil rights” organizations treat DWB as an absolute fact in order to exploit it as a racial issue.

The report continues, “The findings are encouraging because they suggest the Highway Patrol has succeeded in training its officers to avoid racial profiling . . . . In 1999 the General Assembly passed a law requiring Highway Patrol troopers to document the race and gender of motorists they pull over. It was part of a legislative effort to determine whether the patrol was stopping black motorists more often than whites–for ‘driving while black,’ some call it.”

This is the sophistry of the DWB/racial profiling claim. While the study congratulates law enforcement for training their personnel to not engage in racial profiling, the fact is there was no proof that it was ever practiced. Inexplicably, the Observer article states that there was such evidence. The Observer makes the incredible claim, “. ??¢â???¬ ¦The legislature acted after the Observer and other newspapers reviewed data on traffic stops and concluded that black drivers were much more likely to be stopped and cited than white drivers” (italics mine).

Now that is truly incredible. According to the Charlotte Observer, the legislature required traffic stop data documenting race and gender of motorists to be collected, after the Observer and other newspapers reviewed data on traffic stops about race. Yet such data did not exist!

What the North Carolina study proved is that when it comes to the racial profiling/DWB wars truth is the first casualty. This has always been the case. There has never been definitive evidence of racial profiling by law enforcement only allegations that treat unproven assumptions as gospel. More study about this alleged phenomenon was always needed and scholars have said so.

A February 2003 study by Ohio State University sociology professors Richard J. Lundman and Robert L. Kaufman titled, “Driving While Black: Effects of Race, Ethnicity, And Gender on Citizen Self-Reports of Traffic Stops and Police Actions,” was published in Criminology, a journal of the American Society of Criminology.

The purpose of the study was to learn: Are African-American men more likely to be stopped by cops for traffic violations? Are African-American men and Hispanic drivers less likely to report that cops stopped them for legitimate reasons? Are they less likely to report that cops acted appropriately? The study used citizen self-reported data. The conclusions were consistent with other recent studies and books that question the existence of DWB and racial profiling.

Professors Lundman and Kaufman deduced that, “First, citizens report that police nationally make traffic stops more frequently of African-American male drivers??¢â???¬ ¦there is an identical pattern of stops by race/ethnicity. Second, African-American drivers (both men and women), as well as Hispanic male drivers, are significantly less likely than white men to report that police had a legitimate reason for making the traffic stop, thereby suggesting either police recourse to pretext when stopping drivers of color or varying situational definitions between whites and citizens of color, or both (italics mine). Third, African-American men and Hispanic men are significantly less likely than white men to report that police acted properly during the traffic stop encounter (as are African-American women compared to white women). . . . Most importantly, there is a. . . need. . . for additional research on Driving While Black using triangulated police-reported, citizen-reported, and observer-reported data“(italics mine).

Could it be that DWB is more perception than reality?

This is not the impression the Washington Post furnished in a November 1996 article, “Driving While Black on 95,” or the impression conveyed by the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s December 1997, “Driving While Black Examined in San Diego.”

Certainly it is not the impression the ACLU furnishes. University of Toledo law professor David Harris–the nation’s putative leading authority on racial profiling–prepared a national report on “Driving While Black” for the ACLU. He conducted the first statewide research into racial profiling in Ohio. This report concluded that the phenomenon of racial profiling /DWB existed.

However, Harris wrote a book, published in 2002, about racial profiling in which he said, “. . . whatever their (cops) motivation . . . pretextual stops will be used against African-Americans and Hispanics. . . out of proportion to their numbers in the driving population. . . . It may seem bold that I make this assertion as a fact. In fact, I lack the kind of systematically gathered and analyzed data anyone making such a statement would prefer to have. This is because virtually no one. . . has ever kept comprehensive statistics on who police stop. . . there may be race-neutral explanations for the statistical pattern (racial disparity in traffic stops). . . . At the very least, further study is needed” (italics mine).

Harris admits that racial profiling/DWB is unproven. He unequivocally states more study is needed. Yet, the proponents of DWB not only continue to spread this allegation as fact, but by furthering this reckless accusation they continue to indict and convict innocent law enforcement officers.

Allegations and anecdotal accusations, rather than proof, are all that is required of “Civil rights” advocates to falsely indict cops as racists.