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Update To Report Still Shows Hispanic Drivers Disproportionately Pulled Over In Midland County

(Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

By Mitch Borden 

An update to the racial profiling report first put out by Midland County Sheriff's Office shows there weren't as many Hispanic drivers pulled over in 2018 as previously reported. But the update shows Hispanics were still disproportionately pulled over more than any other group that year.

In Midland County, Hispanics make up just 20 percent of drivers. But last year, they made up 55 percent of the 3,180 traffic stops officers made. The Midland County Sheriff’s office first indicated that number was closer to 57 percent, but says that data was processed incorrectly.

This profiling report, which is required by state law, looks at the number of drivers stopped each year, and breaks it down by race.

When the report first came out, Midland County Sheriff Garry Painter told Marfa Public Radio he believed the information was incorrect because his office has “always stopped more Whites than Hispanics or any other race.”

But in last year, that changed.

While the total number of traffic stops dropped in 2018 from previous years, the number of Hispanic drivers pulled over increased. In 2017, roughly 35 percent of Hispanic drivers made up the total number of traffic stops. That same year white drivers accounted for the majority of stops at 59 percent. In 2018, they made up 36 percent of Midland County Sheriff stops.

In a press release, the sheriff’s office claims the inaccuracies in the first version of the report were due to a computer error that didn’t register race or ethnicity correctly. Before prior to issuing the statement, Painter said a change in staff was the reason for the mistake.

The office says the newly released numbers have been checked multiple times to ensure the new report is accurate.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.