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City of Cincinnati's plan to analyze traffic stops seems to stall

Black motorists stopped far more often than whites
Posted at 9:10 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 07:58:52-05

CINCINNATI — From 2008 to 2016, Cincinnati police traffic stops involving black drivers increased 10 percentage points, and city officials vowed to examine if racial profiling was behind it.

Three years later, WCPO asked the city for answers Thursday, but the city didn’t respond.

The city promised to make changes after a WCPO I-Team investigation showed that 63% of drivers stopped in Cincinnati in 2016 were black, and that an early warning system designed to spot racial profiling had been abandoned under then police Chief James Craig in 2012.

Eight years earlier, in 2008, the number was 53%.

About 44 percent of Cincinnati residents are black.

Following the I-Team report, city officials pledged to step up measures to curb racial disparity, as WCPO reported in 2017.

But the percentages, while dropping, haven’t changed significantly, according to the city’s own CincyInsights webpage.

It shows that black drivers accounted for 63% of traffic stops in 2017, 62% in 2018 and 61% in 2019.

(To see the data, click on the tab "Historic - Past 3 Years" under the headline "Traffic Stops." After the page refreshes, look under “Historic Overview” at the top left and click on the time period you want, then look down to "Traffic Stop Demographics" and select ”Race” from the pull-down menu.)

WCPO has two questions: Has the city hired a team to check the traffic stop data for racial profiling? And is taxpayer money still available for that?

WCPO asked Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils if an assessment team could alert police to patterns before they become a bigger problem.

“In the end, I think the money would be better spent concentrating on the things that are taking people’s lives, whether you're talking about violent crime or drug overdoses,” Hils said.

After the 2016 I-Team discovery, City Council approved a budget that set aside money to pay for a company to assess the raw data for signs of profiling.

As of Dec. 19, the CincyInsights webpage listed these neighborhoods as the top 10 for traffic stops in 2019:

1. East Price Hill: 1,449

2. Avondale: 1,438

3. Walnut Hills: 992

4. Evanston: 990

5. West End: 970

6. Westwood: 954

7. Queensgate: 745

8. West Price Hill: 686

9. Over-the-Rhine: 674

10. Camp Washington: 561

Hils said the list has nothing to do with race.

"When we're looking at our calls for service and our crime, we're not thinking about race," Hils said.

"You deploy your folks where they're needed, and where they're needed is where the higher crime rates are - especially the violent crime - and it's also where ... your calls for service come from."