Source: AP 4/11/97 Judge: Traffic Searches Biased By BART JANSEN BALTIMORE (AP) A federal judge ruled Friday that a state police barrack targets black motorists for searches along Interstate 95 in northeast Maryland in a ``pattern and practice of discrimination.'' U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ordered police to provide the American Civil Liberties Union with more information about the searches and disciplinary action against discriminatory troopers. But Ms. Blake, who is brokering a dispute over a civil lawsuit, did not fine police $250,000 as the ACLU requested to encourage police to stop searching the cars of blacks three to four times more often than whites along I95 in Harford and Cecil counties. ``The reasonable showing has clearly been made there was a pattern and practice of discrimination,'' said Ms. Blake, who commended most of the 1,500 state police and added that problems appeared concentrated in the JFK Memorial Highway Barrack in Perryville. Police, who say they base their searches on suspicious activities of motorists rather than race, have 30 days to prepare information about who gets searched and who gets disciplined. But the judge hasn't decided whether to release confidential trooper personnel data to the ACLU. Using police figures from January 1995 to September 1996, the ACLU found three of four motorists searched along I95 were black, though only one in six drivers pulled over was black. One in five whites was searched, even though threequarters of the drivers were white. An Associated Press computer analysis last year of car searches by a special state police squad in Perryville found that black drivers were being stopped and searched for drugs at least four times more often than whites on I95 between the Delaware border and the Baltimore County line. ``Our primary message is this is wrong and the court's intervention is vitally needed,'' said William J. Mertens, a Washington, D.C., lawyer for the ACLU. The case began when Robert L. Wilkins, 33, of Washington, D.C., was pulled over in May 1992 and his car was searched by a drugsniffing dog. The Harvard Universityeducated lawyer argued in his lawsuit that police pulled him over because he is black. He settled the case in January 1995 with the agreement that state police create a policy against stopping motorists based on race, and would investigate and discipline troopers who discriminate. But the ACLU contends discriminatory searches continue. So the civil rights group asked Ms. Blake to find state police in contempt for ignoring the terms of the settlement. The judge refused because the two sides had reached the settlement without a court order. Police argued that after pulling over motorists, searches only occur when the driver acts suspiciously. Coming from New York and answering questions evasively are among qualities that could warrant a search. Steven M. Sullivan, an assistant attorney general representing police, said the 14 troopers named in the lawsuit found drugs in 32.5 percent of their cases, compared to a 28 percent statewide average. ``(Troopers) are doing good police work,'' he said.