Forum Will Delve Into Racial Disparities In Vermont's Policing

04/11/12 7:30AM By Kirk Carapezza

 

Civil rights activists and law enforcement authorities in Vermont are delving into recent findings from a study that shows racial disparities in policing.

A two-year study conducted by the Uncommon Alliance shows that blacks are two times more likely to be pulled over than whites in Burlington and South Burlington, and 10 percent more likely in Winooski. That's according to data collected by four police departments in Chittenden County.

Civil rights activists and law enforcement authorities in Vermont are delving into recent findings from a study that shows racial disparities in policing.

"Vermonters have this view that we're different and perhaps better than the rest of the country but unfortunately that's not true," said Robert Appel, the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission. Appel helped lead the study, which found that after traffic stops the degree of investigative intrusion in Burlington was about twice as harsh for African American drivers.

In light of the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Appel says this data is increasingly valuable for sparking conversations about race and criminal justice.

"The general perception of young African American males is they're dangerous and prone to criminality, which was a factor in the Trayvon Martin shooting," Appel said. "I think it's also a broadly held perception not only among white members of our community but middle class blacks, which undermines the notion for equal justice for all."

Civil rights activists in Vermont want the Legislature to pass a bill now in the Senate judiciary committee that would fund additional studies about the root cause of racial bias.

That bill would require every police department in the state to collect similar data about race that was collected in Chittenden County for this study.

A community forum discussing the findings of the Uncommon
Alliance study will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the O'Brien Community Center in Winooski.

You can read analysis of traffic stop practices by visiting the following participating local law enforcement websites: 

Burlington Police Department   

South Burlington Police Department

Winooski Police Department

UVM Police

This report has been modified to correct an error. The report found that blacks are 10 percent more likely to be pulled over in Winooski than whites. An earlier version of this story had that number wrong.

Tags

bias_free_policing winooski burlington south_burlington uvm police_profiling racial_profiling trayvon_martin politics cities
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