Study: No Bias In Traffic Stops

Christy Arnold, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 6, 2005

An independent analysis of the Cincinnati Police Department found no evidence of racial profiling, but a large percentage of black citizens interviewed for the study believe that it exists.

The consultants “found no systemic pattern of the (department) targeting blacks for differential treatment based on their race,” states the study released Monday.

The city hired Rand Corp. to analyze the department’s progress toward reaching the goals established by the collaborative agreement, which was signed by the city, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Fraternal Order of Police in 2002 to avert a lawsuit over racial profiling allegations. The agreement was created to reform police policies and improve communication with citizens.

“It’s a benchmark,” said Police Lt. Col. Cindy Combs. “No matter how good it was, we always strive to do better.”

The study, the first of five reports spanning as many years, found no signs of racial profiling, but many black residents believe otherwise, the report says.

Rand surveyed about 3,000 Cincinnati residents about a variety of issues relating to the Police Department. Rand dialed more than 27,000 phone numbers and tried to obtain a representative number of respondents in each neighborhood. Rand said it could not reach its goal number of representative respondents in Fairview, Clifton Heights, Fay Apartments, Queensgate, Sedamsville and Riverside. The report did not mention the phone survey’s margin of error.

Forty-six percent of black respondents and 14 percent of white respondents trust the police “a little or not at all,” the survey found. Fifty-six percent of blacks believe officers “almost always or usually” consider race in deciding which cars to stop. Only 18 percent of whites surveyed feel that way.

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For more than five years, the ACLU, a few City Council members and black protesters have yelled “racial profiling” in a crowded political theater. Now the verdict is in: The Cincinnati police are not guilty.

“There was no difference in the type of force used against individuals of different races,” said the Rand Corp. study of Cincinnati policing, paid for by the city as part of a collaborative agreement to end profiling—that apparently doesn’t exist.

The report is the most ambitious of its kind in any city, according to Rand. It found “no statistically significant evidence of racial profiling” and “no difference in citation rates between whites and blacks.”

The study of arrests, contact cards and cruiser-cam tapes found possibly four questionable cops out of more than 1,000—an employee performance record to be envied by General Motors, Procter & Gamble or the New York Times.

In the 400-page report, I didn’t find a single mention of the storm-trooper cops described so often by protesters and the ACLU. What I found was a very different profile:

Most likely a white male, he cares about his city and does his best to be a professional. His favorite part of his job is to help people and solve problems, even though his work is so dangerous he is 68 percent likely to be seriously injured.

He thinks city leaders run from problems they should solve. And he is 90 percent likely to say the media exaggerate racial profiling and unfairly blame him when he does nothing wrong.

He wears a badge. And he is frustrated that the black community won’t support him when he risks his life to protect them, when they are most often victims of crime in the most dangerous neighborhoods.

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The Rand report said the police have already made big changes for better community relations, but it is not communicated. So we have a gap in perception: 58 percent of white people trust the police, but only 17 percent of black people do. It said “black drivers were less courteous, less pleasant, more belligerent and less respectful” to police.

No wonder. For years, the ACLU and black protesters have been slandering Cincinnati’s police, exaggerating mistreatment, spreading fear, suspicion and hostility.

Don’t hold your breath for the ACLU protesters to apologize.

But Mallory, Owens and the cops have it right: It’s time for a new profile of a community that steps up to stop drug crime and killings.

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