Seguino does it again: Her study shows racial disparities in Shelburne traffic stops

By Lilly Young | Community News Service

A recent study found that Black drivers are 4.4 times more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers in Shelburne, raising concerns among Shelburne selectboard members.

University of Vermont Economics Professor Stephanie Seguino conducted the study, released last month, on 800,000 traffic stops and 79 Vermont law enforcement agencies to provide a statewide overview of racial disparities.

The data was collected from 2015-2019.

“Whether you agree with the study, it’s out there and the perception is that Shelburne targets BIPOC,” Justice of the Peace Cate Cross said, using an acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

town of Shelburne

A new report makes the insinuation that the Shelburne Police Department is racist and targets people of color.

The selectboard on Feb. 9 allotted 20 minutes to talk about community policing and the race disparity in stops, although the conversation lasted longer than 30 minutes. Burlington basketball coach and community member Sam Jackson said that it was not enough time. Jackson leads the diversity training for the Shelburne Police Department.

“To me it’s just disrespectful to the issue,” Jackson said.

Selecboard meetings are scheduled to last for two hours, normally. Chair Jerry Storey commented on the time blocked off for the conversation.

“We try to economize as best we can and the discussion was intended as a start, not by any means a conclusion,” Storey said.

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Prior to Seguino’s report, the board cut the police department’s training budget from $12,000 to $6,000 for the next fiscal year.

“So, we have systemic problems, and you want cops and police officers to engage in training and look at our numbers [then] why are we cutting training by 50 percent?” Jackson said.

The board was tasked with creating a zero-growth budget for next fiscal year. “We had a very serious set of constraints on budget, many items were cut in many departments,” Storey said.

Board member Jaime Heins said that the board may need to revisit the 2020-2021 budget to reallocate dollars to meet training needs at the police department.

The Shelburne Police Department has been engaged in diversity and inclusion training since 2018, Jackson said. The training is three to four weeks throughout the year and consists of group exercises, as well as one-on-one work with Jackson. The trainings focus on anti-bias, reflecting on past practices, response to resistance, de-escalation and diversity and inclusion.

“Chief Noble is an all-in guy … Being a person of color, I can certainly tell you my level of trauma with law enforcement has been high … but for him to open his doors is a good sign for the community of Shelburne,” Jackson said.

Noble wrote in an email Feb. 11 that he felt the meeting was productive in that it started a difficult conversation surrounding race and how they police in Shelburne. “The study made us take a hard look at policies, training and how we can improve police services to the residents and people who visit Shelburne,” Noble wrote.

Jackson urged the board to work on diversifying all town departments, not just the police.

“We want to use the police department as a microcosm of the community,” Jackson said. “It’s easy to blame somebody else and not engage yourself.”

Jackson he was curious about the severity of violations each driver received after they were stopped.

Board member Mary Kehoe said, “Us white folks, we are implicitly racist. It’s not just the police, it’s all departments in government.”

On Feb. 23 the board is expected to meet with an advisory group who will provide ideas on how to strengthen diversity training across all town departments.

Dispatcher James Mack and several board members voiced concerns on the completeness of the data.

“The sample size is too small to come up with the conclusions the professor at UVM made,” Mack said.

Seguino looked at 5,582 traffic stops in Shelburne from 2015-2019: 4,081 white drivers, 229 Black drivers, 107 Asian drivers, 2 Native American drivers, and 1,093 unknown drivers, according to data in Seguino’s study.

Seguino said that there have been some negative reactions from police chiefs.

“They believe that the results are suggesting that they themselves are racist,” Seguino said. “We live in a culture that creates very negative racial stereotypes that influence all of us.”

The board invited Seguino to speak at the selectboard meeting on March 9.

The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.

Image courtesy of town of Shelburne

9 thoughts on “Seguino does it again: Her study shows racial disparities in Shelburne traffic stops

  1. Okay Professor, let’s play your race game. Please indicate from your statistics the number of commercial vehicle stops, regardless of color of driver. Please indicate the number of these CMV stops that were part of a CMVSA/VTDOT inspection. Next-please inform us of the number of traffic stops by vehicle state/province license plate, regardless of color of driver.
    Third, please indicate number of stops by infraction. This means, professor that we want to know the reason for stopping the car. Was it speeding or a burned out license plate light. These factors might actually show trends in vehicle stops- not placing the skin color numerator over the total population denominator. Until you provide truthful and complete information, that actually reveals a problem- your words are nothing more than race baiting and an attempt to gain notoriety.

  2. It’s the 21st century, law enforcement does not pull people over just because they are non-White, especially in Vermont. Anyone who believe that blacks or hispanics get pulled over just because of the color of their skin is a complete moron and has consumed far too much of the liberal/progressive/socialist cool-aid.

  3. Are blacks being targeted or do blacks just have less respect for the law thus causing them to be stopped more often? Likely most blacks in Vermont are “flatlanders” and it seems as though a large number of them have little to no respect for motor vehicle laws regardless of the color of their skin.

  4. Another know-it-all liberal professor. Another example of who not to attend their college classes, waste of money and all you get is Goebbels liberal indoctrination. Baruth is in the same mode. Out of stater pushing gun control in safe VT. Another UVM professor. He shakes in his boots when he has to walk by people in their hunting garb. That’s being psychotic and delusional, perfect socialist lawmaker..

    So much intelligence in taxpayer funded UVM. Politicians have Montpelier, professors have UVM. Outside of the college system, they couldn’t financially survive. Baruth found a financial substance, Gov salary and untold, uncountable expenses reimbursement, ref

    Vermont Legislators Admit to Cheating the System. Are They Justified?

  5. “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is essential.”

  6. Only 229 blacks.. OMG, how horrible..what is this world coming to???

    2 Indians and 1,093 unknown drivers, Oh wait can’t forget the high amount of whites 4,081. but let’s really focus on that 229 number.

    .Seems to me that certain people aren’t too bright. NOW we know Shelburne is full of the rich liberals out-of-staters. who think they know it all.

  7. What is the break down between men and women?

    Answer tis question and you will better understand how propaganda works within our state.

    Without this we are mindless sheep being lead to hate and divide our country.

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