Pretexual Stops Drive Racial Profiling
Statistics Tell the Story
The amicus brief includes Iowa statistics on the disproportionately high rate of traffic stops for minorities, data we collected using open records requests to show racial disparities in traffic stops and traffic searches by Iowa law enforcement. We also argue for the court that the real world impact of pretext stops--racial disparities--demonstrate their unconstitutionality.
The state has tried to minimize the data in its briefing, which is consistent with reports of racial disparities in Iowa’s criminal justice system across the board. But we have no doubt that pretext stops drive racial profiling in Iowa, just like they do across the country.
The numbers tell the story:
- A study of traffic stops in Iowa City found that minorities make up roughly 10 percent of the drivers in the city yet they account for as much as 19 percent of the traffic stops.
- In Linn County, African Americans are 25 percent more likely than white people to be cited rather than warned when stopped for a traffic violation.
- Scott County data show that African Americans are almost three times as likely to be stopped for traffic violations than white drivers and almost twice as likely to be arrested after the stop.
- Waterloo* had the worst disparities in the traffic stop data. While African-Americans make up just 15.3 percent of the population, data from the Waterloo Police Department show that 37.8 percent of traffic stops were of Black drivers. Black drivers were also substantially more likely to be arrested and searched and substantially less likely to be merely warned than white drivers.
Amicus Supports Waterloo Case
Two Roadways in Iowa
What can you do? Call or email your state senator and state representative. Tell them you want to see a meaningful anti-racial profiling bill passed in the Iowa Legislature this session.