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Report: Austin Police Search Blacks 3 Times More Often Than Whites

Nathan Bernier for KUT News
The Austin Police Monitor’s Office released an analysis of police activities in 2012.";

The Austin Police Monitor's Office finds racial disparity continued in police activity during 2012.

According to a recent report, almost 1,300 people contacted the independent Monitor’s Office to make a complaint, a decrease of 11 percent from 2011. But concern about racial profiling remains: African-Americans and Hispanics are still more likely to be searched by police, with blacks three times as likely to be searched as whites.

“In analyzing the 5,431 instances of searches based on probable cause, the OPM is troubled by the fact that, despite the officer claiming to have probable cause to search, no contraband or evidence of a crime was found in 66 percent of these searches,” the report states.  

“Equally troubling is the fact that in the 115 instances where an officer based a search on having reported seeing evidence or contraband in plain view, no contraband or evidence of a crime was found in 54 percent of the searches. The percentages for nothing being found in a probable cause or plain view search were even higher for Hispanics (70 percent and 67 percent, respectively).”

The report goes on to note that “While it not expected that officers will be right 100 percent of the time, most literature suggests that ‘probable’ means more likely than not contraband or evidence will be found.”

In a less-detailed report about the first half of 2013, also released last week, the Police Monitor's office says trends show an increase in complaints over 2012.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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