Racial Disparities Persist in Portland Traffic Stops

This week’s report shows the percentage of drivers pulled over who were Black actually increased.

A report released earlier this week by the Portland Police Bureau shows little progress in reducing racial disparities in traffic stops, despite a highly publicized effort by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell to no longer pull over motorists for minor infractions like broken taillights.

As WW previously reported (“Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” June 22), the discontinuation of low-level stops contributed to a 90% drop in all traffic stops in two years. But this week’s report shows the percentage of drivers pulled over who were Black actually increased from 17% in 2020 to 18% in 2021.

Meanwhile, the percentage of stopped drivers who were white dropped, from 65% to 64%. (That’s far lower than their share of the population: More than 75% of Portlanders are white.)

The trend has worsened in 2022: The number of drivers stopped who were white dropped to 63% in the first quarter of the year.

The mayor’s office has yet to comment.