Report: Police in WV Stop Minorities at Higher Rate

By: Paul Gessler Email
By: Paul Gessler Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A study by the Division of Criminal Justice Services finds minorities are more likely to be stopped and searched by police than whites.

The report was commissioned by the West Virginia Legislature. Data was collected by law enforcement between April 2007 and September 2008.

A total of 301,479 stops--of vehicles registered in West Virginia--were stopped and analyzed.

"We can make progress if we're prepared to accept the truth that we have a problem that blacks and hispanics have been stopped at a much high rate," Rev. Matthew Watts of Grace Bible Church in Charleston, W.Va., said. "A proponderance of evidence...would suggest race is the driver. And, if you start looking at ways to address that, I think we would have progress. Otherwise, yes. It's going to set race relations back."

The report did highlight city-level departments in Charleston and Beckley had "little or no disparity in traffic stops."

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