- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) A New Jersey study suggesting black drivers speed more than other motorists was released by state officials yesterday despite the federal government's attempts to suppress it, claiming doubts about its accuracy.
The Justice Department had asked for the study as part of its probe into claims of racial profiling by New Jersey State Police, but federal officials had questioned its methods and asked that it be withheld.
"We continue to believe that the survey results have not been shown to be valid or reliable," Mark A. Posner, a Justice Department attorney, wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.
Mr. Posner said he fears the results have been skewed by factors such as weather, camera placement and glare on windshields.
A spokeswoman with the Justice Department did not return a telephone message seeking comment last night.
The study's findings had been leaked to the media last week. The state troopers union asked the study be made public, saying it absolved them of charges they practiced racial profiling.
A 1998 shooting of four minority men by troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike inflamed accusations that state police targeted minority motorists.
Amid a public firestorm and to avoid a Justice lawsuit, state officials a year later said their troopers practiced racial profiling and agreed to reforms, including monitoring the race of motorists stopped by troopers. But troopers themselves and their professional organizations maintain their denials to this day.
Specially designed radar-gun cameras were used last spring to photograph tens of thousands of drivers on the turnpike. The photos were shown to teams of three evaluators who tried to determine each driver's race without knowing whether they were speeding.
The study found black drivers sped more than others and the racial gap widened at higher speed limits, but there was little difference in 55 mph zones.
James Lange, the study's lead author, stood by the methodology and said most concerns about the report were unfounded or had been addressed.


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