The Baltimore County Police Department has known for years that its own traffic stop data shows disproportionate numbers of black drivers being stopped. “The bottom line is, I’m disturbed by the data,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
According to analysis by the 11 News I-Team In Precinct 1, which includes the communities of Arbutus, Halethorpe and Catonsville, black drivers made up 56 percent of the traffic stops during a month in 2014 while making up just 15 percent of the population there. Similarly, in the mostly-white Precinct 7, which includes Timonium, Cockeysville and northern Baltimore County, black drivers made up 28 percent of police traffic stops in the I-Team’s analysis while making up just 6 percent of the population.
Internal data shows that county police have long been aware of the appearance of racial disparities in traffic stops. Between 2009 and 2014, black drivers made up an average of 52 percent of stops countywide. During the same time, black people averaged 27 percent of the county population.
The I-Team’s investigation exposed holes in the state’s racial profiling law. While police report detailed data about traffic stops, there is no such reporting to the public. The Police Training Commission said it’s not feasible, the I-Team was told.
Baltimore Delegate Jill Carter said state police, the original target of racial profiling laws, believe the problem has been solved. “No matter how much data we get, the issue is the Maryland State Police need to recognize there is still a problem,” Carter said. State officials said they don’t have the resources to analyze detailed data and put it in a form that might show profiling patterns. The American Civil Liberties Union said the state reports are useless.