Traffic stop numbers released by Evergreen Park Police Chief Michael Saunders show that in 2010 73 percent of people stopped were minorities.
Saunders released the statistics and an explanatory statement in response to a recent report by Fox 32 and the Better Government Association. The report cited a number of minority drivers recently stopped in Evergreen Park who believe racial profiling was the motivating factor.
Saunders countered that while the number of minorities stopped in the village continues to rise, the increase can be attributed to "traffic flow of non-residents, particularly Chicago residents (63.9 percent) through Evergreen Park's main traffic arteries."
An Illinois Department of Transportation review gave the village a benchmark number of 62.7 percent for minority drivers in 2004. Saunders counters that this number no longer accurately reflects real driving numbers as shopping and employment opportunities have expanded since the benchmark was instituted.
Fox 32 spoke with an expert on racial profiling at the University of Chicago . This is the reaction he had:
"The data shows some real red flags," Craig Futterman said. "At a time when racial profiling seems to be getting better in Illinois as a result of this law, at least the recent data and the trend in Evergreen Park is that there are a greater number of stops and a greater percentage of minority stops, which stands out."
In a prepared statement Saunders says that his department's enforcement measures have kept the number of repeated violent crimes low and made Evergreen Park and the communities that surround it safe to shop in and travel through.
"The Evergreen Park Police Department commits itself to the safety and high quality of life for all people that reside, travel work and shop in this community regardless of race or gender," Saunders said.
Saunders further adds that moving radar and stationary units detect speeders before the identity of drivers can be detected. He says his department's methods have resulted in more drivers with suspended licenses, active warrants, illegal drugs off the street and have multiplied the instances of recovered weapons.
While 73 percent of traffic stops were of minorities in 2010, the percentages for 2009 and 2008 were 71.35 percent and 71.08 percent, respectively.
Watch Fox's story: Drivers accuse Evergreen Park of racial profiling
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