Report shows Black residents more likely to get pulled over in Roanoke

The study analyzed 3,735 traffic stops in 2020

A community group in Roanoke recently asked the center for race and social policy at Virginia Tech for some data on traffic stops in the Star City.

ROANOKE, Va. – The Equitable Policing Coalition in Roanoke requested the report from the Center for Race and Social Policy at Virginia Tech. It showed statistics from 3,735 traffic stops conducted by the Roanoke Police Department in the second half of 2020.

Former Virginia Tech professor Dr. Wornie Reed led the study.

“It doesn’t necessarily demonstrate conclusively that there’s racial profiling, but it’s suggested very strongly because there are racial disparity is all aspects of police encounters with the citizens,” said Reed.

According to the findings, in Roanoke, Black people were 1.5 times more likely to be pulled over than a white person. Black-driven vehicles were more than twice as likely to be searched than white-driven vehicles and Black drivers were 2.5 times as likely to be arrested.

Reed says this isn’t just an issue in the Star City.

“Blacks arrested at several times the rates of whites. In Roanoke, in Montgomery County and almost everywhere else.”

The stats provided are based on the racial makeup of the city population, with more than 60% of residents being white and 30% being Black. Roanoke Chief of Police Sam Roman addressed the stats at the City Council meeting Monday.

“We try to be as transparent as we can be with putting information out, oftentimes people find the information that they want which confirms what their perspective is,” Roman said.

Reed’s perspective is that the state shows a disparity between the color of individuals who get pulled over.

The Equitable Policing Coalition held an event over the weekend to present these statistics to the community. The Roanoke Police Department was not invited to the meeting.

About the Author:

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.