Executive Summary of Findings
1. Arizona Department of Public Safety Officers made more than 500,000 stops between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007. Just under 200,000 stops were made on Arizona’s interstate highways during this period.
2. Of those 200,000 interstate highway stops, approximately 13,271 resulted in searches.
3. African Americans and Hispanics stopped by DPS officers were more likely than whites to be searched on all major highways included in this analysis. Native Americans and persons of Middle Eastern descent also were more likely than whites to be searched on most highways.
4. On average, Native Americans stopped by DPS officers were 3.25 times more likely to be searched than whites stopped by DPS officers. African Americans and Hispanics were each 2.5 times more likely than whites to be searched by DPS.
5. Higher search rates for minorities were not justified by higher rates of transporting contraband. In fact, on average, whites were more likely to be carrying contraband than Native Americans, Middle Easterners, Hispanics and Asians on all major Arizona highways. African Americans were at least twice as likely as whites to be searched on all six interstate segments, despite the fact that the rate of contraband seizures for African Americans and whites was similar.
6. Minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics and Middle Easterners, were consistently stopped for longer periods of time than whites traveling on all interstate highways in Arizona.
7. In sum, this report concludes that DPS officers treated persons from different racial and ethnic groups unequally between July 2006 and June 2007. Minorities were more likely than whites to be searched and stopped for longer periods of time. This unequal treatment was not justified by higher contraband seizure rates from minority motorists.
Note: Study results are based on statistical analysis of the State of Arizona´s Department of Public Safety reports. DPS is legally required to document all data from traffic stops and this documentation is housed in the DPS database. Please click on link above for the entire study.