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Prof.: Citations Show St. Anthony Police Stopped Black Drivers Disproportionately

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The police killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights has forced police departments to take a closer look at racial inequality. And WCCO took a hard look at warnings and citations given by the St. Anthony Police Department. They patrol St. Anthony, Falcon Heights and Lauderdale, where the population is roughly 79 percent white, 6 percent black.

"It's troubling that there are these disparities," University of Minnesota Law Professor Myron Orfield said.

At WCCO's request, Orfield studied citations handed out by St. Anthony police in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015 about 15 percent were issued to black people. Roughly 60 percent went to white people. Those numbers are consistent so far in 2016.What troubles Orfield is the demographic for the area is about 6 percent black.

"It looked like they were stopping people about two and a half to three times as often as we thought what the driving population would be. It suggests that, consistent with our old studies, that there's police profiling going on in those communities," Orfield said.

In 2003, Orfield co-authored a report on racial profiling during traffic stops in Minnesota. It was requested by the legislature. While St. Anthony police did not participate, he says their current numbers mirror what he found in surrounding communities. That in Fridley, New Hope, Plymouth, Sauk Rapids and Savage combined, "Blacks were stopped about 310 percent more often than expected."

"The fact that blacks were disproportionately stopped, that they were disproportionately searched and that contraband was found less often than when whites were searched, so those three things together suggested a pattern of racial profiling," Orfield said.

Traffic citations given by the officer who killed Castile match his department's statistics. Of the tickets Officer Jeromino Yanez wrote in 2015, 16 percent went to black people, 44 percent to white.

Similarly in 2016, 16 percent were issued to black people, 58 percent white.

The City of St. Anthony website acknowledges higher arrest rates in communities of color. It says what has happened in our community "heightens the broader awareness of this issue as well as the need for a comprehensive and effective strategy to address the challenge." Click here to see their full statement.

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