HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Cops Still Look at Race
Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2001
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 2001 Associated Press
Author: John P. McAlpin


TRENTON, N.J. ?? Some state troopers are still practicing racial 
profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike despite a major reform effort, 
the state's attorney general told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. began an internal audit of last 
year's trooper activity after a January study showed blacks and 
Hispanics were being stopped more than whites. Investigators are 
reviewing videotapes of every motor vehicle stop by suspected 
troopers, Farmer told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Blacks and Hispanics are being searched much more than white drivers, 
Farmer said, even though reports show whites carry drugs more often 
than do minorities. Searches of minority drivers are also based on 
lower legal standards than the one troopers use for white drivers, 
Farmer said.

Troopers seized drugs or cash in 25 percent of their searches of 
whites, compared to 13 percent of searches of blacks and only 5 
percent involving Hispanics, officials said.

Minorities accounted for 73 percent of people searched by troopers on 
the turnpike last year. In a report covering 1994 to 1996, minority 
motorists were involved in 84 percent of searches.

"That's astounding," said the Rev. Reginald Jackson, executive 
director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey. "We've been 
dealing with this about three years since that admission and you see 
nothing done."

The probe focuses on the Moorestown barracks of Troop D, which 
patrols the southern end of the highway.

Troopers are searching minority drivers based on race, and the 
videotapes show that, Farmer said.

"Now we have proof. Some of the video recordings confirm what the 
numbers suggest," Farmer said.

Farmer began his testimony by saying the reforms are working, but he 
said the numbers show the need to continue work.

Former Attorney General Peter G. Verniero, now a state Supreme Court 
justice, broke years of denials two years ago and acknowledged that 
racial profiling was real.

Verniero's admission came one year after two white troopers fired 11 
shots at four unarmed minority men ? wounding three ? during a 
turnpike traffic stop near Trenton.

Last week, Verniero testified for nearly 13 hours and defended his 
actions as attorney general. On Monday, Verniero said he would not 
return to testify.

After replacing Verniero, Farmer agreed to a deal with the U.S. 
Justice Department to allow federal monitoring and oversight of state 
police operations.

Members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee have drafted a letter 
to Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco asking him to seek Verniero's 
resignation from the bench.

"You'll know in a day or two what my answer is," DiFrancesco said in 
an interview Tuesday night on New Jersey 101.5 radio.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Kirk Bauer