Report shows less racial disparity among police stops in IC

Report shows less racial disparity among police stops in IC

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that a statistical analysis of traffic stops in Iowa City is showing less racial disparity in 2018.

The report, presented at the City Council’s work session Tuesday, was compiled by the St. Ambrose University’ Criminal Justice program. Chris Barnum, the director of the program, has been working with the city for over a decade to study traffic stops.

The researchers divided the city into one-mile squares and then determined the expected number of traffic stops involving minorities, comparing it to the number of actual stops. Overall, minority traffic stops were about 7 percent higher than expected. However, the study concluded that once a traffic stop has been made, minorities and non-minorities were cited at an equal rate.

Data shows minorities arrested at almost twice the rate of non-minorities, but in most cases officers are required to make an arrest, such as when the driver is intoxicated or has warrants. There were only about ten percent of the arrests where an officer had the discretion to decide whether to make an arrest or not.

The report also found that probable cause searches in 2018 occurred about two and a half times more with minorities, but they actually found contraband or evidence more with white drivers.

Most traffic stops occur in the downtown area, as well as the area of Broadway Street and Cross Park Avenue.

Police Chief Jody Matherly says he’s encouraged by the trends in the report and added that his department breaks down traffic stop data on a monthly basis.