Executive Summary

The West Virginia State Police was created in 1919 under §15-2-1 of the West Virginia Code. The mission of the State Police is:

"... Statewide enforcement of criminal and traffic law with emphasis on providing basic enforcement and citizen protection from criminal depredation throughout the state and maintaining the safety of the state's public streets, roads and highways."

The State Police on average make 20,000 recorded traffic stops per month. These stops are fairly split between warning citations and actual traffic citations. This installment of the Preliminary Performance Review found the following regarding traffic stops made by the West Virginia State Police during August 2000.

Issue Area 1: The Number of Minority Warning Citations Issued by the West Virginia State Police in August 2000 is in Keeping with State Minority Populations.

The Performance Evaluation and Research Division (PERD) has determined that traffic stops by the West Virginia State Police are in keeping with the state's population ratios indicating that the agency as a whole is not practicing racial profiling. In order to determine if the practice of racial profiling exists, PERD requested warning citation data from the agency for the month of August 2000. Warning citations as opposed to traffic violation tickets were the basis for the analysis because racial profiling maybe more reflected in warning citations than in traffic violation tickets. PERD was able to collect 4,835 of the 10,320 warning citations issued during August 2000. The chart below summarizes the findings of the data analyzed:
Table 1
Comparison of Persons Stopped to State Minority Population
Race of Person Stopped Number of Persons Stopped Percentage of Sample Percentage of State Population Difference
White  4,526 93.61% 95.7% -2.09
Black 119 2.46% 3.12% +0.66
Other 19 0.40% 1.12% +0.72
Blank or Illegible 171 3.54% NA NA

This analysis indicates that currently the agency as a whole is not stopping citizens due to their race. However, this is not a long term study and cannot comment on past practices of the agency nor those of individual officers. In addition, the analysis does not include data regarding searches of individuals. PERD recommends the following:

Recommendation 1:
The West Virginia State Police should complete its current plan to institute a detailed ticketing system which will monitor officer's actions more closely, assist in protecting the agency from lawsuits due to inappropriate behavior and provide an effective management tool. A periodic report regarding traffic stops should also be produced.