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Study: Police target minorities

Blacks, Latinos more likely to be pulled over

By Jeffrey Pieters and Joshua Lynsen

*ews@postbulletin.com

A statewide study released Wednesday indicates that Rochester police officers stop black and Latino motorists at a rate disproportionate to their population.

The study, conducted by the Institute on Race and Poverty and the Council on Crime and Justice, examined the practices of 65 police and sheriff's departments in Minnesota, including Rochester and Olmsted County.

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The study determined that black drivers in Rochester were pulled over at more than three times the rate expected, given their share of the city's population.

Also, Hispanic drivers were pulled over nearly twice as often as population figures would suggest.

The study used data collected from 14,346 traffic stops in 2002 and compared the demographics of the drivers to the community's demographics as determined in the 2000 U.S. Census.

The Olmsted County study had similar findings, but that study lacked sufficient data in some cases to make a conclusive determination.

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson challenged the study's findings, saying the study depended on outdated population figures to portray a more dire situation than actually exists.

Blacks and other minorities were undercounted in the 2000 Census, Peterson said, and Rochester posted some of the fastest minority growth in the state in the first two years of this decade.

"I'm not here to argue it (profiling) is not there," Peterson said. "I'm saying the number is not as disproportionate as the report says it is."

Some area black residents beg to differ.

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David Tines, a senior programmer analyst at Mayo Clinic, has lived in Rochester for about 10 years. He said he's been stopped by police for no apparent reason, but "I'm originally from Chicago, so I expect it. It's something you learn to live with."

While new to Rochester, Tines and a group of friends were trying to find an address and made a wrong turn near the Government Center. He said an officer pulled him over and demanded identification from everyone in the car.

Tines said he tries to wear his work clothes while driving "so at least when I do get pulled over they know they're dealing with a man with some kind of intellect. They know it's someone who knows his rights.

"I don't even feel comfortable going down the street for a jog," he said.

More information, including the complete report, are on the Web at: www.umn.edu/irp.

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