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Are North Carolina police officers profiling black drivers?

Given the several recent high-profile police shooting involving African Americans, many people have started question whether or not some police officers treat black individuals differently during traffic stops and searches. Well, according to a recent study conducted by Stanford researchers, they might - at least in North Carolina.

In fact, this Stanford study - which reviewed 4.5 million traffic stops in 100 North Carolina cities from 2009 through 2014 - found that police were more likely to search both black and Hispanic motorists during traffic stops than they were to search Asian or white motorists. The researchers also found that while blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be searched, these many searches were actually less likely to discover illegal weapons or drugs when compared to searches involving Asian or white motorists.

More details of the study

Specifically, the tests used by the Stanford researchers found strong evidence of racial profiling and discrimination. For instance, police only searched 3.1 percent of the white motorists they pulled over, compared to 5.4 percent of blacks and 4.1 percent of Hispanics.

The researchers also developed an additional statistical test that examined the level of suspicion police needed before they conducted a search. This test analyzed four factors: 1) the race of the driver; 2) the police department making the stop; 3) whether the stop resulted in a search; and, if there was a search, 4) whether guns, drugs or other contraband were found.

What did researchers conclude after reviewing these factors? They wrote, "In nearly every one of the 100 departments we consider, we find that black and Hispanic drivers are subjected to a lower search threshold than whites, suggestive of widespread discrimination against these groups."

However, the researchers made sure to note that while the threshold of suspicion may be different for each race, these differences may not be based on racial bias, but instead factors related to socio-economic backgrounds - factors that disproportionately impact minorities.

Regardless of the reasons, however, the study make one point very clear: blacks and Hispanics in North Carolina are searched more often when dealing with the police. Therefore, if you have been charged with a crime and believe the police treated you unfairly, you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You need to do everything to can to ensure your rights are protected.

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