WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A new study from professors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill shows that black drivers are more than two times more likely to be searched by police during traffic stops in Wilmington than whites.
Of the 20 North Carolina cities examined by UNC-CH, Wilmington had the second biggest disparity in black to white search ratio.
The only city with a greater disparity was Jacksonville, where African Americans are searched 174 percent more than white drivers during traffic stops.
"I want to bring attention to what the official statistics collected by the police officers themselves demonstrate about racial disparity," explained UNC political science professor Frank Baumgartner
The professor said that the disparity between black and white searches is only increasing over time.
"This is a really hard time right now for police. There's a lot of attention and I think the attention is merited. I think there are issues," Baumgartner stated.
He said his hope is that the study will catch the eye of police officials and insight change.
"Police departments themselves will understand that this isn't going to go away. We're not going to stop collecting these data and that maybe the data can be helpful for the police chiefs to understand and monitor the behaviors of their officers," he said.
Katy Parker, an attorney from Wilmington focusing on civil rights cases, said she was not surprised to see the statistics in the study.
"You need more community policing. I think that if officers were on the street and talking to people instead of being in their cars and pulling people over for minor offenses, there would be less distrust between the community, particularly the African American community and the police department," said Parker.
The WPD issued the following response to the study:
While the WPD's total stops and searches are down, last year's numbers are actually proportionally higher for African American searches relative to the study.
The study's 12 year average states that African Americans in Wilmington were 2.34 times more likely to get searched.
In 2013, African Americans were 2.79 times more likely to be searched according to WPD stats.
In 2014, African Americans were 2.59 times more likely to be searched according to WPD stats.