Large racial disparity for traffic stops in Oakland persist

African Americans were pulled over by OPD

15,000 times last year, nearly 10,000 more
than the next racial group.

Half of the more than 11,000 traffic citations issued by Oakland police officers last year were given to African Americans, the department reported this week. Similarly, 62 percent of all vehicles stopped by Oakland police were driven by African Americans. The data was reported during a Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee hearing Tuesday on racial disparities in traffic stops.

“We need to recognize there is racial profiling going on as it pertains to African Americans in this city,” said Councilmember Desley Brooks, also chair of the Public Safety Committee.

“It is a little late that people are still having to go through this,” she adding, in reference to the police department being under federal oversight going on 15 years.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, along with Brooks, asked the department to break down the specific reasons for being pulled over and the violations. The lack of data led them to keep the agenda item in committee until OPD returns with additional information.

“We don’t know how many were pulled over for dangerous driving or something less,” said Brooks. A high number of low-level reasons for traffic stops such as tinted windows, Brooks added, might be what is propelling the racial disparity.

More than 25,000 traffic stops were initiated last year, according the department. Instances of African American drivers being stopped numbered 15,082. The next most prevalent racial group to be pulled over were Hispanics with 5,365 stops. Caucasians followed with 2,645, and Asians at 1,370.

Data for those who received citations as result of the traffic stops were similar in proportion. However, OPD noted the percentage of African Americans who were pulled over and given tickets is far lower than other racial groups.

Thirty-nine percent of stops involving African American drivers resulted in tickets, whereas, all other groups receiving citations hovered between 54 percent and 60 percent of all traffic stops.

A spokesperson for the department acknowledged the disparities in traffic stops persists, but told the committee that overall stops are trending downward this year.

Categories: African American, Desley Brooks, Oakland, Oakland City Council, Oakland committees, Oakland PD, Oakland police, public safety committee, racial disparity, traffic stops

4 replies

  1. Really? Is this news?? This have always been the case


  2. There are other conclusions that can be drawn from these statistics. I lived in Oakland and was always careful to drive respectfully, however the streets, especially in East Oakland were rampant with disregard for safety and courtesy. It has nothing to do with race, but every thing to do with behavior.


  3. This type of reporting and inference gives fuel to the idiots that voted for Trump. The police are responding to behavior. If there is a newsworthy statistic, it might be a correlation between a behavior and a group of people. Instead of deflecting responsibility for a behavior by blaming the police, it might be better for us to examine the behavior and it’s causes. Why do people behave with little regard for the safety of their fellows?


  4. BY MW:

    Three are all sorts of reasons for the disparity in traffic stops.

    I heard about one of the more interesting ones some years ago when I took a traffic safety course on a Saturday. The instructor said his normal fulltime job was being a sergeant in the Oakland Police Department, and that he supervised a group of approx. thirteen police officers.

    The students in the class were a mixture of blacks and whites.

    According to the instructor, now and then his district office would get a complaint, and I assume from parents or a high school principal, that lately there had been a lot of young men, and it sounded like mostly in their twenties, driving around the high school trying to pick up the high school girls.

    (NOTE: Since as a guy named Gaynor, and who was the mayor of New York City about a hundred years ago or so, referred to, it is illegal for the city to take people it thinks are troublemakers or potential troublemakers down to the river and drown them, therefore very often police departments instead harass them in the hope that they will cease their activities due to becoming uncomfortable, or at least leave and go somewhere else.)

    So the instructor said that when his office had lately been getting a lot of complaints, and which I would assume happened at least every few months, he would for a few days have the officers under him aggressively patrol the area near and around the high school, and which therefore led to a lot of the guys harassing the high school girls being the subject of traffic stops.

    The students in the class, and which included blacks in their thirties and forties, were very supportive of his attitude. Most likely at least some of the students were parents of high school girls, and perhaps some of them were much more concerned with the safety of their children than with being politically correct.


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