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Vermont State Police traffic stop data shows continued racial disparities

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 11:01 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Newly released traffic data from Vermont State Police shows racial disparities still exist when it comes to traffic tickets and searches.

They say more work needs to be done to train troopers and take into account what part implicit bias plays in these cases.

The largest racial disparities exist in searches and ticketing.

In 2019, VSP pulled over nearly 58,000 drivers, a slight increase from 2018. Out of those stops, about 94% were white and about 3% were Black. Other races made up about 3%.

  • 137 drivers were searched out of those stops, mostly out-of-staters.
  • 106 were white drivers. Contraband was found 76% of the time.
  • 14 black drivers were searched. Something was found 71% of the time.
  • 3 Asian drivers were searched. Nothing was found in any of those searches.
  • 14 Hispanic drivers were searched. Nearly 86% of the time something was found.

Out of all of the drivers stopped, 37% got a ticket. By race, those drivers stopped who got tickets broke down to:

  • Asian 50%.
  • Hispanic 45%
  • Black 43%,
  • White 37%
  • Native American 36%

Hispanic and Black drivers were also arrested the most for violations while Asian drivers were arrested for violations the least.

The Director of Fair and Impartial Policing for the Vermont State Police, Capt. Garry Scott, says training is developed in part by community members and it’s not easy to pin down the root cause of the disparities.

“The numbers are very small, so it’s difficult to really determine what’s causing that but that’s something we really rely on listening to our communities, and their lived experience of how they are interacting with the Vermont State Police and from that we try to develop strategies and plans to do a better job with training,” Scott said.

It’s the fifth year the agency has published its traffic stop raw numbers. Scott says it’s helping state police in new directives for its troopers during enforcement.

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Should Vermont beef up its fair and impartial policing policy?

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