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Romney backs tracking racial profiling

New task force to determine cases of abuse

By Bill Dedman and Francie Latour, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff, 3/5/2003

    On city boulevards and rural lanes, whites and women are far more likely to receive written warnings instead of tickets when stopped for identical traffic offenses, according to a Boston Globe study of newly released state records.


Police plan public meeting

Chiefs deny racial profiling

Civil rights advocates laud plan

Police chiefs decry study

Racial profiling is confirmed
Northeastern study [PDF]
Report summary
Who got a passing grade?
Police response [MS Word]

Police flouting 'no fix' law on tickets

Profiling study cites dozens of locales Charts
Northeastern study [PDF]

Reilly starts push to end profiling in police stops

Boston police to get tough on tickets

Judge: Suspect must stay in jail

Seeing bias, evidence tossed

Deeper look at profiling

Funding urged for study

Ticketing cited despite curbs

Romney backs profile tracking
People asked to join task force

Chief: Glitch caused error

Task force to review data


Day 1:
Race, sex, and age drive ticketing
Minority officers are stricter on minorities
Boston to track all stops by police

Who gets fined for speeding
Minority officers
Most-favored status
One officer's week

Ticketing whites vs. minorities
Large departments | All

Ticketing women vs. men
Large departments | All

Day 2:
Punishment varies by town and officer

How tickets raise insurance
Ranking the departments
Littering is worse?

Toughest on speeders
Large departments | All
Locals vs. out-of-towners
Large departments | All

Day 3:
Troopers fair, tough in traffic encounters

Frequent ticketers
How fast can you go?

Editorial: Tickets to fix
Op-Ed: Looking deeper
Op-Ed: Study proves nothing
Profiles in prejudice


Q & A
Secretary of Public Safety Edward A. Flynn, the senior law enforcement official in Massachusetts, spoke with the Globe about this series. Q & A

Detailed report
A closer look at how the Globe analyzed hundreds of thousands of traffic tickets.
Download study
This .PDF document requires Adobe Acrobat

Online chat
Globe reporter Bill Dedman chatted with readers about this series.
Read full transcript


In January, the Globe published the first results of its analysis.

Part 1:
Citations reveal disparity
Totals key to computations

Tracking tickets
Searches by race and age

Searching minorities more often
Ticketing their own

Part 2:
Police not pressed on race
Tewksbury cop is tops
Fridays worst for tickets
Scope of monitoring reduced

Where race was not recorded

Failing to record the race
Searching more cars

After the state last year cut almost every dollar of funding to study racial profiling -- halting the collection of data on traffic warnings -- Governor Mitt Romney has proposed restoring the money.

Concurrently, Romney's public safety chief this week appointed a 57-member task force to help set benchmarks to measure whether police agencies are engaging in profiling.

If approved by the Legislature, Romney's 2004 budget would allocate $840,000 to track information on the race and gender of millions of drivers who receive traffic warnings, Public Safety Secretary Edward A. Flynn said yesterday. Last fall, Acting Governor Jane Swift slashed the remaining 2003 budget for studying racial profiling by 98 percent -- from $346,663 to $5,750.

Following a national furor over allegations of racial discrimination by police, lawmakers in 2000 approved a bill ordering the Registry of Motor Vehicles to track all tickets and warnings written by police officers across the state and to submit the data to a university for analysis. The Registry has typed ticket information into a database, but it stopped typing in information about warnings in 2001 -- making it impossible to determine whether police officers, who have wide discretion, favor whites over minorities in writing warnings instead of tickets.

The proposed funding is not retroactive, so researchers from Northeastern University studying the data for the state will have two years of tickets but only two months of warnings for comparison. The Northeastern study had been expected next month, but may be delayed because the Registry has yet to provide researchers with the database.

A Globe study published in January found a wide racial disparity in ticketing motorists and searching their vehicles. Out of 750,000 traffic tickets issued statewide, black and Hispanic drivers were ticketed at twice their share of the population. Once ticketed, they were 50 percent more likely than whites to have their cars searched -- even though more of the whites searched were found to have drugs.

Under the state law, it's Flynn's responsibility to decide whether racial disparities in a particular police department rise to a level that warrants scrutiny. The law allows Flynn, with Attorney General Tom Reilly, to force departments to collect more information on traffic stops. But the law does not call for penalties, other than the threat of legal action by the state and civil rights groups. Flynn said he created the task force to advise him on how to determine whether bias has occurred.

The task force -- with members from law enforcement, civil rights groups, and academia -- met on Monday. The meeting was largely introductory, but ''clearly, there was an undercurrent of what I would call disagreement,'' said member Albert P. Cardarelli, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Cardarelli said he was encouraged by the group's diversity and commitment. But, he said, ''The focus has to be to establish some kind of measure . . . or benchmark of what racial profiling is, and what kind of data indicates a locality has gone beyond some reasonable boundary of it. I think there is going to be a lot of disagreement over that, on an issue that is so profoundly emotional.''

Setting a benchmark shouldn't be the only mandate, said member Carol Rose, executive director of the state American Civil Liberties Union. ''We have to start thinking about how to begin to address profiling,'' she said, ''. . . not merely to set the standard of how much racial profiling is too much.''

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 3/5/2003.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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