ACLU study shows black drivers in Illinois 2.7 times more likely to be involved in traffic stop

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The ACLU is shining a light on racial disparities in traffic stops in Illinois.

Using 2020 data from IDOT, the ACLU said black drivers in Illinois were more than 2.7 times more likely to be stopped for a traffic stop compared to those that are white.

This is despite black drivers only making up an estimated 13.9 of licensed drivers in the state.

“The problem is that this has been a consistent finding now for more than 15 years this data has been collected,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications for ACLU of Illinois.

Locally, the ACLU said the disparities are even greater.

In Peoria and Normal, it is more than 4 times more common for black drivers to be pulled over. In Bloomington, it is more than 6 times.

“In the day, it was these things happen. Black people get pulled over, black people get searched. But now we have the data, it’s not just what we think,” said Linda Foster, Bloomington-Normal NAACP president.

Bloomington-Normal NAACP leaders said the numbers show challenges African Americans continue to face, and this can lead to difficult conversations with younger generations.

“We have to explain to them the nuances associated with potentially being stopped by an officer because we know what the trend depicts,” said Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson, Bloomington-Normal NAACP 1st vice president.

Foster says if the data continues on its current trend, she thinks the community must come together to address it, spearheaded by the NAACP.

Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said while knowing the number of people stopped is useful, he says other key data points must be taken into account.

“We also look at the outcome of those stops. Whether it’s a verbal warning, written warning, or traffic citation,” Bleichner said.

He said when you look at those numbers and other data including the length of stops, the disparities are closer.

“Those percentages are within one or two percentage points Caucasian drivers versus minority drivers. So the outcomes are relatively consistent,” Bleichner said.

Bleichner also says nearly half of drivers stopped in Normal don’t have a McLean County address. He also explained that the state has a much higher minority driver population compared to Bloomington-Normal.

We also reached out to Peoria and Bloomington police for comment and have not received comment.

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