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The continued, disparate number of racial minorities stopped by Nebraska law enforcement officers signal the need for new training, the ACLU of Nebraska said Monday.

The civil liberties organization said the traffic stop data in the latest Nebraska Crime Commission report shows "racially-biased policing is a persistent problem in Nebraska."

As commission reports have found in recent years, black drivers comprise a higher rate of motorists stopped, searched and arrested by police when compared with their makeup of the state's overall population.

Specifically, black drivers were twice as likely to be stopped than white drivers in 2018.

"This data confirms what Nebraskans of color already know: racial bias persists in traffic stops," ACLU of Nebraska attorney Rose Godinez said in a statement. "This data confirms there is a clear need to recalibrate. We can’t continue to do the same things in terms of police training and watch the data about racial disparities in policing continue to rise."

In Lincoln, black drivers were pulled over in 11% of the 41,000 traffic stops by the Lincoln Police Department. African Americans accounted for 4.3% of the city's population.

Lincoln police officials have acknowledged the racial disparities in traffic stop data in the last several years, but their studies have pointed to economic factors and police patrol realities as contributing to the disparity.

The Omaha Police Department's traffic stop data also included disparate numbers for black and Native drivers.

The commission reports the data, collected by law enforcement, to serve as the basis for discussion, but it does not provide enough information to determine the motive or cause for the disproportionality, according to the commission.

Also, the commission reviewed 11 reports from four agencies where an officer was accused of racially profiling someone they stopped.

The internal investigations for those cases exonerated eight of the officers, and the other three cases had insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation, according to the commission. 

Godinez said ACLU staff look forward to working with law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure police do all they can to eliminate racial bias.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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