- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Fifteen years of traffic stop data show that St. Paul police officers routinely stop, search and ticket black drivers at higher rates than white motorists.

The police department released data Wednesday covering nearly 700,000 traffic stops dating to 2001. Much of the information, including many stops that occurred before 2005, is incomplete.

Twenty-nine percent of traffic stops over the last decade were of black drivers, who comprised 13 percent or less of the city’s driving-age population. White drivers accounted for 31 percent of stops and made up 58 percent of the driving-age population.

Racial disparities in Minnesota routine traffic stops have been brought to the forefront since a police officer fatally shot an African-American man, Philando Castile, in July.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez stopped Castile, 32, for a broken taillight and because the officer believed Castile might have been involved in a past robbery. Yanez, who has been charged with manslaughter, shot Castile during the traffic stop. The county’s attorney said Castile was not a suspect in the robbery.

Police Chief Todd Axtell said he’s uncertain why the disparity exists but that he doesn’t believe city officers are racially profiling African-American drivers. He said he has plans for the department to collect more data in the future that may provide answers.

“I know, because we are human, that we all possess levels of implicit bias. I want to . go further and have the conversation as to how it may be impacting how we are delivering police service throughout the community,” Axtell said.

Last year all of the city’s 620 officers went through implicit bias training, and the department plans to have another round of training next year.

Axtell said the department will also provide statistics to each officer about his or her traffic stops.

“I believe that will help officers, in a non-discipline setting, to have conversations about who they’re stopping and how those patterns look,” Axtell said.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com

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