Indian Country Today: Data from millions of traffic stops reveal there is ‘driving while Indian’

Twelve years ago, academic researchers working with the Washington State Patrol raised a warning flag: Troopers were searching drivers from minority communities, particularly Native Americans, at a much higher rate than whites. They recommended additional study.

That was the last time the Washington State Patrol conducted a substantive analysis of the race and ethnicity of drivers searched by troopers.

Meanwhile, troopers continued to search Native Americans at a rate much higher — more than five times — than that of whites, an analysis by InvestigateWest shows. The patrol also continued conducting searches at an elevated rate for blacks, Latinos and Pacific Islanders.

And yet when troopers did decide to search white motorists, they were more likely to find drugs or other contraband.

The State Patrol did not dispute InvestigateWest’s findings.