Trunk, let me join in commending you for your piece on racial profiling. I agree that the key to understanding this issue is to realize that racial disparities in police street and highway stops reflect underlying racial disparities in crime rates. Critics of racial profiling like to point to disparites in the rates at which African-Americans are stopped in particular jurisdictions or on certain stretches of highway. But these disparities, standing alone, do not demonstrate any impropriety. To create even an inference of impropriety, one would have to show a race-based disparity in the rates at which stops uncover criminal conduct. In other words if only 5 percent of stops of blacks uncover criminal activity, compared to 10 percent of stops of whites, then one might infer that blacks are being stopped too often compared to whites. But the studies I’m aware of do not show such disparities. Instead, they show that, although blacks are stopped more often than whites, the stops of whites and blacks are about equally fruitful. The reasonable inference, then, is that law enforcement is doing its job properly in these cases.
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