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Tracking Race in Pennsylvania Traffic Stops

Making routine traffic stops is one of the most common activities of any law enforcement officer. Pennsylvania police conduct thousands of traffic stops each year resulting in large numbers of traffic citations and vehicle searches. With the number of annual traffic stops on the rise, new data confirms race continues to play a significant part in law enforcement’s decision to stop a vehicle.

Disproportionate Targeting

With the large majority of vehicle stops involving black drivers, there are questions over what appears to be the disproportionate targeting of minority drivers. Civil rights advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, frequently point out that the percentage of black drivers targeted for a traffic stop greatly exceeds the actual percentage of black drivers in the same geographical area.

Data released by the Philadelphia Police Department revealed almost 80 percent of all vehicle stops involved black drivers. Other police departments around the state have also been accused of being engaged in racially biased traffic policing. While many police departments insist they are following best practices and standards to train their officers in the use of non-biased traffic stops, these same organizations fail to collect race data.

Importance of Data Collection

Pennsylvania state law does not require police departments to track data related to race and the frequency of traffic stops. Without the collection of this important data, it becomes more difficult to hold law enforcement and other public agencies accountable for racial profiling. With more than 1,200 local police agencies throughout the state, experts believe less than half keep adequate records tracking the race of drivers stopped and searched in traffic stops.

Among those police departments establishing race-tracking protocol for traffic stops are Harrisburg, Susquehanna, and Lancaster. Certain police departments, including the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police, not only collect race traffic stop data but make it available to the public. Currently, the Pennsylvania State Police, with over 4,700 officers, does not collect race data for traffic stops. Advocates continue to push for all Pennsylvania law enforcement units to begin tracking race as the first step in increasing transparency and holding officers accountable.

Obtaining Compensation for Victims of Racial Profiling

Individuals who experienced racial profiling by law enforcement may be entitled to compensation under state and federal laws. When the police violate an individual’s civil rights, they can be held accountable for their illegal actions. Contacting an experienced civil rights lawyer is the first step victims of racial profiling should take to obtain the compensation they deserve.

Philadelphia Civil Rights Lawyers at Williams Cedar Protect the Rights of Racial Profiling Victims

If you or a loved one was the victim of racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement, compensation may be available. At Williams Cedar, our experienced Philadelphia civil rights lawyers work aggressively to protect your rights and help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation available. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online.