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New York Times: Racial Discrepancies Evident In Greensboro Traffic Stops

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku
Flickr Creative Commons

The Greensboro Police Department is reviewing its records of traffic stops, after a New York Times article revealed deep racial discrepancies.

The newspaper's analysis found that Greensboro police searched black drivers more than twice as often as white drivers, even though they found contraband more often when the driver was white.

Greensboro police say they put more patrol cars in high-crime areas, and that those areas have higher percentages of African-American residents.

The article also quoted black Greensboro residents who say they have lost trust in the police.  Mayor Nancy Vaughan acknowledges that there is a racial divide in relations between police and the community.

"I don't think that's unique to Greensboro, but there certainly are different levels of trust.  When you talk to people in the west side of the city, which is predominantly white, they have a much larger comfort factor, but when you talk to people in the east side of town, which is more minority, they have a much different experience," Vaughan says.

Vaughan says the article's statistics are alarming, but she does not believe there is a "pervasive problem" in the police department, and she is not yet willing to attribute the numbers to implicit bias.

"I think we have a good police department, and I think it is comprised of really good men and women," Vaughan says. "But it's made up of individuals. You can't know what goes through every individual's mind on any given day."

Greensboro officers started wearing body cameras two years ago, but state law makes that footage confidential. Vaughan says she would also support a change that would allow the department to release that information in most cases.

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Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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