Editorials

DPS can’t count, or doesn’t want to

Troopers are listing Hispanic drivers as white.
Troopers are listing Hispanic drivers as white. Star-Telegram

Something always seemed odd about the Texas Department of Public Safety’s racial profiling reports.

Texas’ population is 38 percent Hispanic, but only 24 percent of traffic stops and tickets were listed as involving Hispanic motorists.

Now we know what was wrong, and we await word on what DPS will do next.

In the last five years, troopers identified 1.9 million drivers with Hispanic surnames as Anglo on records meant to detect racial profiling, according to an investigation by TV station KXAN in Austin.

Care to guess the five most common surnames for white drivers stopped in Texas? Based on a study of DPS records, they’re Smith, García, Martínez, Rodríguez and Hernández.

In other words, troopers are either not trained properly in how to record descent under the law — it lists “Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or Middle Eastern” descent — or are blatantly ignoring the law to fudge the records.

Steve McCraw, director of the DPS, told the TV station that the mistake on up to 1.9 million drivers resulted from a flaw in troopers’ in-car computer system.

If that’s the problem, DPS should fix it and correct the past reports.

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