Race, Ethnicity, and Policing: New and Essential Readings

By Stephen K. Rice; Michael D. White Roberts | Go to book overview

20

Preventing Racially Biased Policing through
Internal and External Controls
The Comprehensive Accountability Package

Michael D. White

Well… I'm back over here in the projects, pissing off the natives.1

Minority motorists have been treated differently than non-minority
motorists during the course of traffic stops on the New Jersey Turn-
pike.… We conclude that the problem of disparate treatment is real
—not imagined.2


Introduction

The quotes above are related to two infamous cases of police misconduct from the 1990s. The first comes from the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department (hereafter called the Christopher Commission), which investigated the LAPD in the wake of the Rodney King beating. As part of their investigation, the commission reviewed more than six months of Mobile Digital Terminal (MDT) transmissions and found “an appreciable number of disturbing and recurrent racial remarks,” clearly suggesting that “the officers typing the MDT messages apparently had little concern that they would be disciplined for making such remarks.”3 The second quote comes from an interim report authored by a New Jersey State Police Review Team investigating racial profiling. Since the early 1990s, the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) had been accused of engaging in racial profiling, particularly on the New Jersey Turnpike (NJTP). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a number of law suits on behalf of citizens. In State v. Soto in 1994–95, evidence presented showed that along a stretch of the NJTP, African Americans made up 13 percent of drivers, 15 percent of vehicles speeding, and 46.2 percent of people stopped by the NJSP. In March 1996, the court ruled that state troopers were engaged in a statecondoned policy of racial profiling, and that the NJSP had failed to monitor, control, or investigate claims of discrimination. In April 1999, then Attorney General Peter Verniero admitted that motorists on the NJTP were stopped and searched based only on the color of their skin.

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