A report released Tuesday found that Black drivers in Los Angeles are five times more likely to be pulled over by the Los Angeles Police Department and nearly nine times more likely to be arrested for traffic violations than white drivers.
Advancement Project California and Push L.A. analyzed public data from 2018 to 2020 for the report, titled “Reimagining Traffic Safety & Bold Political Leadership in California.”
The report claims that the LAPD’s traffic stops and arrests are racially and economically biased. The police department did not immediately respond to a request for a response.
“Black and Brown Angelenos have endured pretextual stops, where an officer stops a person to investigate them without actual evidence of a crime, for decades,” said Chauncee Smith, manager for Advancement Project California’s Race Counts initiative. “All too often, the result of these degrading interactions with police officers results in dehumanizing trauma, harassment, and unjustified use of force.”
While Black people make up less than 9% of the city’s population, they accounted for 27% of the LAPD’s traffic stops, the report found. Meanwhile, white people made up only 18% of traffic stops, despite the city’s population being 28.5% white.
The analysis also found that while traffic stop rates are correlated with poverty rates, low-income Black neighborhoods in L.A. have a higher rate of traffic stops than low-income white neighborhoods.
Latinos are 1.6 times more likely than white people to be stopped while driving and 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for a traffic violation.
Additionally, officers spend more time on traffic violation stops for Black and Latino motorists compared to white people. Breaking down the 25% of overall traffic stops that lasted the longest, the LAPD spent an average of 22 minutes on Black drivers, while officers spent an average of 15 minutes on stops involving white motorists.
The report noted that the consequences are costly for Black and brown communities, as low-income people of color have to pay fines and fees for minor traffic violations.
The report recommends the city remove the police from the role of enforcing traffic laws and switch to a unarmed approach to traffic safety, as well as focus on de-escalation tactics and implicit bias training.
It also urged an end to pretextual stops, which the report says is dangerous and harmful to communities of color and do not make communities safer.
Other recommendations include:
— the removal of the LAPD’s Metro Division from South Los Angeles;
— improving urban design to improve traffic safety in Los Angeles;
— using an equitable approach to address traffic safety issues’ root causes;
— holding officers accountable for misconduct; and
— banning vehicle consent searches.
“The recommendations from this report outline the changes needed to move towards reimagining public safety in a way that honors the clarion call of activists, while actually improving safety outcomes at once,” Los Angeles Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said in a statement provided by Advancement Project California.
The Advancement Project California is a racial justice organization that specializes in research, advocacy and policy.