A preliminary study of more than 6 million cases of traffic stops by New Jersey state troopers found “concerning racial and ethnic disparities” in who gets stopped, leading to creation of a team of independent researchers to monitor the state’s traffic stops, NJ.com reports. The results were found in spite of 2009 reforms meant to eliminate bias in traffic stops. Before 2009, New Jersey State Police were monitored at the federal level for more than a decade. In 2009, 35% of the motorists troopers stopped by state troopers were Black or Hispanic. That figure has since risen to 46%, far more than their share of the population. Some troopers will be directed to ease off enforcing some traffic laws and others will face audits of their stops.
The study found Black and Hispanic motorists were more likely to be searched than their white counterparts, even though those searches were less likely to yield evidence. They were also more likely to be asked to step out of the vehicle, to be arrested or to face the use of force. New Jersey civil rights advocates said the findings simply gave hard numbers to a reality they’ve long known. “I’m not surprised at all by the data, nor is any Black person in the state of New Jersey surprised by the data,” said the Rev. Charles Boyer of the group Salvation and Social Justice. State Police head Col. Patrick Callahan said his troopers “embrace the scrutiny and oversight that comes with serving our communities.”