Oakwood mayor pledges to review report on traffic stops and race

Published: Monday, October 07, 2019 @ 11:38 PM

Oakwood residents and city officials addressed a recent report that stated a review of traffic-ticket data in the city found that black drivers make up a much higher percentage of the total number of stopped and ticketed drivers in the community than in neighboring Kettering or of the population they represent in the city.

Oakwood residents and city officials addressed a recent report that stated a review of traffic-ticket data in the city found that black drivers make up a much higher percentage of the total number of stopped and ticketed drivers in the community than in neighboring Kettering or of the population they represent in the city.

Mayor William Duncan said that while he questioned the accuracy of the report, he pledged to review it and make changes if needed.

RELATED: REPORT: Oakwood police stop black drivers at higher percentage

Content Continues Below

The report, which used 2016 traffic data, was released last week. 

The report, conducted by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit regional law firm that represents low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio, recommends the city conduct a fuller analysis and “begin appropriate training to ensure that all people driving in Oakwood are treated fairly and without discrimination.”

Resident Sam Dorf, at Monday night’s city council meeting, said that after reading the report, his reaction wasn’t a state of surprise.

He called the traffic stop issues “the tip of the iceberg” and noted that city officials need to “dig deeper into the data,” to come up with a solution to racial profiling.

The ABLE report found in Oakwood that year, black drivers accounted for 21.9 percent of the traffic stops where a problem with driving or equipment was observed, and 36.8 percent of the stops where a license plate check was run without tickets being written for an observable driving or equipment problem.

Ellis Jacobs, senior attorney with ABLE, said the opportunity to get the issue out to the public is important. City officials seem willing to tackle the issue, he said.

“It really comes down to them commissioning a study to address the problem and they seem willing to do that,” Jacobs said.

Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward told council that Oakwood is a “beautiful city,” but racial profiling is real and should be dealt with through training officers and getting rid of running the license plates of black drivers who are not breaking the law.

Mayor William Duncan said he takes the challenge of addressing the issue personally as he studied how the city handled the issue in 2001 following a Dayton Daily News report that studied how Oakwood handled traffic stops.

He said the city will work with ABLE and University of Dayton professor Martha Hurley, who helped compile the data, to address concerns. 

The city should have a response in about 60 days, the mayor said.