Advocacy group launches database on race and traffic stops in Vermont

Local News

Five years after a law required Vermont law enforcement officers to document the race of drivers pulled over in traffic stops, the data has been difficult to come by.

Now, a Vermont racial justice group has just made it easier to find, creating a public dashboard of the available traffic stop information. The dashboard went live Tuesday night.

“If there’s no one walking around who can tell you where the (traffic stop) data is, then that really creates quite the disconnect with the accountability that’s required that they’d actually do it,” Justice For All executive director Mark Hughes said.

Justice For All has joined Vermont lawmakers, including Rep. Selene Colburn of Burlington, on legislation to expand the effort to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

“Who are police stopping? Arresting?,” Colburn said. “Who are prosecutors choosing to prosecute? Who is being sentenced, and then who is ending up actually incarcerated in the state of Vermont? So we’re looking all along the way how this is happening.”.

Colburn said the lack of this information in other criminal justice areas is actually impeding some of the state’s efforts at criminal justice reform.

“We’ll ask questions that people simply can’t answer,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Well, we don’t know if the data’s here. It might be here in one municipality and not another.'”

At a meeting of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance on Tuesday, Hughes said systemic racism is far from simply a law enforcement or criminal justice issue.

“Act 54 in 2017 — it did indicate that there are racial disparities across housing and education, employment, economic services, even health services access,” he said.

Click here to review the Race Traffic Stop Dashboard.

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