Traffic stops don’t show police bias
With the election of the abominable Donald Trump, instances of actual racism will not be difficult to find. The Baltimore Sun need not try so hard (“Driving while black,” Nov. 20). It recently reported, for example, that in Baltimore County, “black drivers were targeted in 50 percent of reported traffic stops by county police and 53 percent of vehicle searches between 2013 and this year … despite black people making up just 27 percent of the county’s population.” Juxtaposing summary statistics — for example the percent of searches against percent of population — is misleading and inflammatory. There is no reason to assume, a priori, that lawbreaking (traffic law or otherwise) is evenly distributed across all segments (race, sex, age, income, etc.) of the population.
To the contrary, The Sun’s own database shows a contraband “hit rate” in Baltimore County of 28 percent for whites and 27 percent for blacks during the three year period in question. It looks as though the Baltimore County Police Department’s vehicle search protocol is almost perfectly calibrated to produce unbiased outcomes. It should serve as a model for other jurisdictions. Needless to say, this did not come through in The Sun’s reporting.