NEW ORLEANS, La.- Pulling someone over because of their color. Racial Profiling. It is a problem in several parts of the country.
There is good new for the city of New Orleans. According to a new study, the New Orleans Police Department is doing a good job of not profiling minorities at traffic lights. For those like Central City native Tyron Berzat, that has not always been the case.
"Back then it was corrupted. Now it's much more peaceful," Berzat.
Berzat is reffering to before Hurricane Katrina. Back then, Berzat says, you could not pay him enough to trust New Orleans police.
"I'm just glad they're not stopping me and my partners. Me and my partners be chillin out there," Berzat said.
Apparently there are figures that back up Berzat's observations. RTI research conducted a nationwide study called "Veil of Darkness." The study compared the racial breakdown of traffic stops before and after sunset. WWL-TV crime analyst Jeff Asher broke down the numbers, looking at more than 100,000 records over the past two yeas.
"If it's racial profiling against African American men, it will be a disproportionate number of stops against African American men when it's light out than 7p.m. and 9p.m. when it's dark out and officers can't really tell as easily who is in the car," Asher said.
Asher found no evidence of racial profiling during the day versus the night.
"So, with African-American men, for example, between the daylight hours, 43 percent of traffic stops are African American men and during those two nighttime hours, it is 42.5 percent.
Central City resident Lionel Tillman says he believes the data. Tillman added that he noticed a change in the late 2000's and says since then, he has seen police improving their presence in the community.
"Them coming out, going out. Meeting the kids.
Talking to the kids. To see a cop in their neighborhood. Not arresting somebody or anything," Tillman said.
"You certainly see with the consent decree and the attention that's been paid by the department over the last few years that this is an issue that matters to them," Asher said.
The city with the most racial disparity during traffic stops, according to the RTI study, is Durham, North Carolina. Police in Durham have denied any claims of racial profiling during traffic stops.
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