SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. – The Latest on a report on five years of traffic-stop data collected by Vermont State Police (all times local):
Officials say five years of traffic-stop data show black drivers stopped by Vermont State Police were five times more likely to be searched than white drivers, even though contraband was more likely to be found when white motorists were searched.
The Institute on Race and Justice at Boston's Northeastern University found the percentage of stops of whites resulting in searches was 1.1, while the percentage involving black drivers was 5.1.
Contraband was found 80 percent of the time in searches of whites and 68.5 percent of the time in searches of blacks.
State Police Col. Matthew Birmingham said the cause of the disparity appeared to be unintentional bias. He says acknowledging bias is the first step toward "moving these numbers in a positive direction."
The head of the Vermont State Police says intentional racial and ethnic bias is not tolerated in the agency. But Col. Matthew Birmingham says implicit bias — internal and unacknowledged — is harder to recognize and root out.
Birmingham's comments followed Tuesday evening's release of a study of five and a half years of state police traffic stop data showing several signs of bias, especially against African-Americans.
The data show that a black motorist who is pulled over by a Vermont trooper is nearly five times as likely to be searched as a white driver. That's despite another finding that contraband is more likely to be found in the vehicle with the white driver.
Black drivers also are more likely to be pulled over than white drivers.