- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 27, 2005

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Black drivers in Delaware pay higher speeding fines than white motorists, a newspaper investigation has found.

The investigation by the Wilmington News Journal also found that some police forces ticket blacks in disproportionate numbers. Police agencies with inequities deny they engage in “racial profiling,” but could not explain why disparities exist.

Some black drivers, however, believe their skin color influenced the police officer. One is Andre Brown of New York, who said he was driving with the traffic flow when a Greenwood officer ticketed him for going 64 mph in a 35-mph zone in 2002.

“I wasn’t the only one speeding that day,” said Mr. Brown, who was headed to Virginia when he got the $142 ticket.

A newspaper analysis of 877,200 computerized speeding ticket records from 1994 through 2003 showed:

• The average ticket cost black drivers 7 percent more money than white drivers because police charge them with exceeding the posted limit by greater speeds than white drivers.

• Statewide, police charged 29 percent of black speeders with driving more than 15 mph over the limit, compared with 23 percent of white drivers. At speeds above 15 mph over the limit, the ticket cost increases by $20.

• Black drivers statewide received 19 percent of tickets, equal to Delaware’s black population. But in Harrington and Greenwood, the state’s top two ticket-writing towns, the percentage of blacks ticketed was much higher. Four state police troops, the Delaware River & Bay Authority and other towns had disparities.

• The average ticket cost Asian drivers 15 percent more than white drivers.

Police throughout Delaware said they give tickets based on radar readings, not race.

Several Delaware police chiefs, including Newport’s Michael J. Capriglione, president of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council, said they rely on officers’ integrity to ensure fairness. Newport tickets cost blacks 4 percent more than whites, and blacks got 22 percent of tickets.

“We can’t account for every action the officer takes in that 12-hour shift,” Chief Capriglione said. “But if there was a police officer making those types of judgments, it’s only a matter of time before it shows in his arrests.”

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