LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Every police department in Texas is required to examine the issue of racial profiling through a public report on traffic stops once a year. Sifting through the numbers, the results are not as black and white as you may think.
The Lubbock Police Department had a little more than 34,000 traffic stops last year. The racial profile of traffic stops almost identically matches Lubbock's population make up. Whites make up 57% of Lubbock's population, and 58% of traffic stops. Hispanics make up 31% of the population, and accounted for 30% of stops. Blacks are 9% of the population, and registered as 11% of the stops.
However, that is not the case when you look at searches. Deidra Patterson says a few years ago a police officer came to a birthday party she was at and told her too many black people together in one place means trouble. She thinks this attitude spills over into traffic stops too. "It just depends on who you are. If they come up and they don't like you or just look at you and they want to do a search, they're gonna do it, and you can't tell them nothing. I mean, it's ridiculous how African Americans are treated," she said.
When NewsChannel 11 looked at the 136 vehicle searches that occured, 47% were white, 27% hispanic, and 26% black. This does not match the city's population make up, but, Greg Stevens with the Lubbock Police Department says it's not because of race. Police typically ask for a consenual search if they see suspicious or nervous behavior. "Any number of things that might make an officer look at that and think something doesn't seem right here," said Stevens.
The Lubbock Police Department has a system set up to receive complaints about racial profiling, however they did not receive any complaints last year.
After years of struggle, the Lubbock Police have succeeded in recruiting minority officers.
Right now, LPD has 370 members on staff. Of those, 290 are white, 74 are Hispanic, five are black, and only one is Asian. The minority numbers are low, but five black officers is an increase from only two a few years ago.
Lubbock City Councilman and former Lubbock Police Officer, Floyd Price, says he would like to see more minorities on the force. "We've got a large law enforcement class that is taught every day at South Plains College and Wayland Baptist University. Those young African Americans that are there, we would like to see you give our Police Department a try," says Price.
The Lubbock Police Department says they don't specifically target minorities in their recruiting, because they are looking for anyone who is qualified to join the department.
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