Professor completes study on policing


Graph from “Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont,” a report by economics professor Stephanie Seguino.

Black drivers in Vermont are four times more likely to be searched after being stopped by police, according to a recent report by a UVM professor.


The findings in the report, conducted by economics professor Stephanie Seguino, indicate patterns of policing within 29 of Vermont’s police agencies.   


“The data makes racial profiling real in a whole different way to folks who don’t want to believe it,” said Beverly Colston, director of the Mosaic Center for Students of Color.


Seguino said the report helps understand racial relationships in Vermont.


“Data is the best tool we have to change behavior,” she said.

African-American drivers were more likely than White drivers to  receive a ticket after being stopped because a higher percentage were found to be driving on a suspended license or without a license, stated Eric Fowler, crime analyst for the Burlington Police Department.

“When you account for not having a license or a suspended license, there was no statistically significant disparity between black and white drivers,” he stated. 

The search rates for black and Hispanic drivers are higher than those of white or Asian drivers; however, black and Hispanic drivers are less likely to be found with contraband leading to an arrest, according to the report.


“There is no good reason for African-American drivers to be searched four times more than white drivers,” Fowler said.


At UVM, 1.1 percent of the undergraduate population is black; 83.1 percent of undergraduates are white, according to data from Fall 2014.


Students are more hypervisible at UVM because the majority of students are white, Colston said.


“It creates a different feeling of alienation,” she said.


The Mosaic Center works with students individually and provides a community for students who have been racially profiled, Colston said.


Students who have had negative encounters with the police can go to the Brotherhood, a group within Mosaic, she said.


“People are often traumatized by racial profiling, so they actually need care not only from us, but sometimes from CAPS,”  Colston said.


UVM Police’s mission statement states they are “proud to serve our diverse community through the use of partnerships, law enforcement, and public education to enhance safety.”


“UVM as an institution prides itself in being very forward-thinking,” sophomore Isabelle Bergman said. “Racial profiling goes against what this college town has to offer.”


Seguino stated the census data does not capture the actual driving population in the report.


This story is the first of a series analyzing the impact of Seguino’s report. We hope to include as many different voices as these articles are published.

Correction: Eric Fowler stated that African-American drivers were more likely than White drivers to receive a ticket after being stopped because a much higher percentage of African-American drivers were found to be driving on a suspended license or without a license, not that African-American drivers were more likely to be stopped because of this factor, as originally reported.