Police Report Prompts Accusations of Profiling

A report from the Longview Police Department on the numbers of traffic stops in 2002 has prompted some to say racial profiling is going on. To guard against racial profiling, the department implemented a program using citizen contact data to ensure that its patrol officers did their jobs without bias.

But the resulting report has some African Americans in Longview convinced that profiling exists. According to compiled data for 2002, 59 percent of all contacts, or traffic stops, in Longview were white, 31 percent black, and the remaining 10 percent hispanic and other races. Those arrested from traffic contacts, 50 percent were black, 40 percent white, 10 percent hispanic and other.

But the arrest numbers can be misleading. According to the department, the data only shows information that officers collected after a traffic violation and nothing more. But some don't see it that way. Still many feel they are targeted just because of the color of their skin. The report is supposed to support the department's efforts to enforce the law fairly. And in spite of what people may think of the data., Chief A.J.Key maintains a strict policy against profiling. The data was independently categorized and interpreted at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.