Administration Buries Racial Profiling Report

by TChris

Driving While Black (DWB) is viewed with suspicion by police officers in many jurisdictions. Statistics that establish a relationship between race and the treatment of drivers during traffic stops are routinely discounted by law enforcement, so it isn't surprising that the Justice Department wants to minimize their importance. In keeping with the Bush administration�s treatment of unpleasant facts -- deny or bury -- the administration, according to Lawrence Greenfeld, pressured the Bureau of Justice Statistics (headed by Greenfeld since 2001) to censor a news release that would have announced the results of "a major study on traffic stops and racial profiling, which found disparities in how racial groups were treated once they were stopped by the police."

The Bush administration's heavy-handed approach to federal employees who tell the truth was evident in the demotion of Greenfeld, who "refused to delete the racial references, arguing to his supervisors that the omissions would make the public announcement incomplete and misleading." The Justice Department responded by killing the news release, in the evident hope that the ugly reality of racial profiling wouldn't be noticed.

The official who wanted to delete references to the greater likelihood that black and Hispanic drivers would be searched and subjected to force during a traffic stop has been rewarded with a promotion to a senior position at Homeland Security. Greenfeld, on the other hand, was "asked to move on" (that is, resign or be fired) just six months before he was scheduled to retire with full benefits. He'll probably be reassigned to a lesser position at the Bureau of Prisons.

The facts the administration wants to bury aren't pretty:

Once they were stopped, Hispanic drivers were searched or had their vehicles searched by the police 11.4 percent of the time and blacks 10.2 percent of the time, compared with 3.5 percent for white drivers. Blacks and Hispanics were also subjected to force or the threat of force more often than whites, and the police were much more likely to issue tickets to Hispanics rather than simply giving them a warning, the study found.

Congress mandated the study, and many in Congress are unhappy that the administration doesn't want the results made known.

Congressional opponents of racial profiling, who have criticized what they see as an ambivalent stance on the issue by the Bush administration, said they were frustrated to learn that the Justice Department had completed the Congressionally mandated study without announcing its findings or briefing members of Congress on it. They accused the Justice Department of effectively burying the findings to play down new data that would add grist to the debate over using racial and ethnic data in law enforcement and terrorism investigations.

Statisticians in the Bureau of Justice Statistics complain that political pressure to cook the books has heightened during the Bush administration. The statistician to whom Greenfeld's job was offered turned it down, perhaps fearing a similar assault upon his integrity if he accepted the position.

The report can be accessed here.

< Cindy Sheehan Is Going Back to Crawford | Turning Up the Heat on John Roberts >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • I was discussing this subject with one of the younger employees where I work and he has no problem with African Americans and Hispanic Americans being singled out by the police. You see they are the majority of people dealing drugs to White Americans, so naturally they need to watched closer. Funny how white folks always want us minorities to get the raw end of a deal when they are the ones mostly enabling the drug trade. Cut off demand for illegal drugs and you cut off supply, but that would mean jailing a whole bunch of white folks, and we can't have that now, can we?

    Re: Administration Buries Racial Profiling Report (none / 0) (#2)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:40 PM EST
    Quick question for you conservatives. Is it better or worse for the public to be well-informed?