Rapid City police appear to make traffic stops by racial groups roughly proportional to the city's breakdown for population by race, concludes a report on Native policing by the Rapid City Police Department.
Although the U.S. Census Bureau pegs Rapid City's Native American population at about 12 percent, Rich Braunstein of the University of South Dakota's Government Research Bureau has recalculated that figure based on the Census' own estimation of undercounting. He believes the city's Native American population is between 23 percent and 26 percent.
That recalculation puts the 24.1 percent rate of traffic stops for Native Americans in line with the city's overall population demographics. Braunstein said the data shows that Blacks account for 2.6 percent of traffic stops, a rate more than double their 1.1 percent proportion of the city's population.
Native Americans do have a higher rate of receiving citations (78 percent), or tickets, than does the white majority (57 percent), although Braunstein said a detailed look at the data tells a more nuanced story. Whether a motorist receives a citation or a warning appears linked to what type of offense has taken place. Driving without a license or without insurance, for example, almost always yields a citation, while speeding is a toss-up.
According to data reviewed by Braunstein and a team of seven Native American research assistants, Native Americans pulled over in Rapid City have a higher rate of driving without a license or without insurance than do their white and Asian counterparts. So the report concludes it is the nature of the offense moreso than race that leads to the higher rate of citations for Native Americans.
The three tables, below, from the report break down the data. The full analysis can be read in the report, attached at the bottom of this post, on pages 5-11.
Read more from the Black Hills Knowledge Network's Native Data series, including more details from the RCPD Native policing study.