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Wichita Racial Profiling Board: Black drivers more likely to be ticketed than whites

Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 5:27 PM CST
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Wichita's Racial Profiling Advisory Board says recent Wichita Police Department data shows black drivers are twice as likely to get a citation than white drivers.

Dr. Walt Chappell presented the data on behalf of the board to the Wichita City Council on Tuesday.

"We have had five studies done now of the stops in Wichita, Kansas," said Chappell during the meeting, "each one of them shows you are twice as likely to be stopped and given a citation if you are black."

Chappell said he analyzed more than 137,000 citations issued by Wichita police officers between 2016 and 2018 finding black drivers are twice as likely to get one or more non-moving violations during each traffic stop.

He said the are tickets for things like expired tags, a suspended license or broken light.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Chappell's review showed discrepancies and inaccuracies.

The board said there are two issues: blacks receiving more citations and having their licenses suspended due to nonpayment on the citations.

Sheila Officer also sits on the board. She said the board is efforting to reinstate the licenses of more than 51,000 drivers in Wichita which have been suspended for nonpayment of one or more traffic fines.

She also said the board is working with state lawmakers to present a bill in January for an amnesty program that would allow drivers to reduce or wipe out some of the debt they owe.

The Wichita Police Department released the following statement regarding the analysis:

"On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Wichita Police Department (WPD) staff members met with a City resident to review his findings from a traffic ticket analysis he initiated on his own. After receiving the analysis, an internal review of the data was completed by WPD staff. The review showed discrepancies and inaccuracies, which will require further review. As Chief, I support the hard work done by WPD staff every day. I have no inclination racial profiling is an element involved in any of WPD policing strategies and if any conduct of racial profiling was to surface, it would be investigated and handled appropriately. Making accusations of racial profiling and creating a divide between police and the community without clear evidence is very unfortunate. We appreciate and encourage outside reviews of our department to ensure transparency and that we are operating among best practices. However, disparities in traffic stops alone does not constitute bias and many additional factors have to be included. Therefore, WPD also wants to ensure accuracy in the data and analysis before drawing conclusions. WPD has reached out to the resident to further explain the discrepancies and inaccuracies, but the resident has not granted the meeting at this time. After a final and accurate analysis of the data, WPD will seek a third-party review by asking Wichita State University Dr. Michael Birzer, a world-renowned expert in racial profiling, to review the data and provide input. The WPD will meet with Dr. Birzer after he has developed his conclusions."