* Hispanics, who made up 31% of the city's population as tallied in the 1990 census, accounted for 41% of those pulled over.
* Blacks--4.5% of population, 7% of stops.
* Whites, 43% of population, 32% of stops.
* Asians, 21% of population, 16% of stops.
To McBride and other minority advocates, the statistics don't lie: Police stop blacks and Hispanics in disproportionate numbers.
Nor do the statistics lie to Lansdowne: His officers stop members of all racial groups without targeting minorities.
"We think the numbers right now are with the norm for us as a city," Lansdowne says. "There's a logical explanation. . . . Nobody can tell us we're right, nor can anybody tell us we're wrong."
Lansdowne explains that San Jose police are assigned to their beats by a computer, which is fed city crime statistics. Officers therefore patrol crime-prone neighborhoods, which typically have denser minority populations.
Among the criticisms of the police statistics was their failure to reflect how many searches followed traffic stops. The American Civil Liberties Union chided the department for this blind spot, contending that minorities are routinely harassed after they're pulled over.
Lansdowne says he wants to track searches in the future. With no model to follow, he says, learning how best to collect and analyze data is an evolving process.
"Both sides have a tendency to look at the issue and be defensive," Lansdowne says. "I think we need to look beyond that."
Gathering Information Is Labor-Intensive
The profiling picture has other holes. Police are using 10-year-old population data, woefully outdated for a city as racially and ethnically dynamic as San Jose.
Data from the 2000 census, to be released in March, won't necessarily help. The census measures who lives in a city, not who drives there. Poorer residents, who tend to be minorities, are less likely to own cars--so the ratio of minority drivers to white drivers is even smaller than census numbers suggest.
To learn who's on the road, researchers must stand on corners and count faces--something racial profiling researcher John Lamberth has done in areas outside Philadelphia and Detroit.
It takes 800 man-hours to get a good measure of the driving population--labor-intensive work, he concedes, but absolutely necessary.
"One of the problems you run into when you do it the way San Jose did [using residential populations, not driving populations], you end up with the police department saying that we're not profiling and the community saying there is," says Lamberth, a psychology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. "And nothing has really been settled."
Such has been the early pattern in police departments nationwide.
In September, San Diego police acknowledged they typically pulled over blacks and Hispanics twice as often as whites but said they couldn't conclude this constituted profiling without a widely accepted way to interpret their data.
In October, data showed Texas state troopers wrote a disproportionate number of tickets to blacks on interstate highways. State officials disputed the conclusions, saying the study was flawed because it compared ticketing to each county's racial makeup, whereas interstate drivers often come from miles away.
Only the most egregious cases preclude disputes--as in New Jersey, where the state acknowledged in November that at least 80% of discretionary car searches by state troopers were of minority drivers.
The debate is still too new for all sides to agree on standards to analyze the data--indeed, police aren't even collecting the same information. So the Justice Department hired Northeastern's Ramirez.
In her report, published in December, Ramirez recommended that police record details of searches as well as traffic stops. But she avoided suggesting a definitive standard for racial profiling.
Lamberth is the only expert interviewed willing to hazard even a tentative formula. He suggests that police have a problem if their stops of minority drivers are 50% above the minority's share of the driving population--for example, if blacks are 10% of drivers but are involved in 15% of stops.
It's a starting point based on experience, not science, he concedes.
And certainly not the law. Judges have been able to sidestep the need for standards because the first rounds of cases--including high-profile lawsuits against New Jersey and Maryland state troopers in the late 1990s--were settled out of court.
Statistics Alone Aren't Enough
"The challenge of the racial profiling cases is that we start with statistics to get inside the heads of police officers," says Harvard Law School professor Margo Schlanger.
"As a legal matter, that's a very difficult thing to do--officers can defend the statistics by saying that there are just more African Americans who do suspicious things," she says.
Stopping drivers as part of a drug sweep in a minority neighborhood plagued by crack dealers could mean a high number of blacks pulled over and searched--and be the kind of effective police work most citizens desire.
Conversely, if police in a largely white suburb stop black drivers because they think they don't belong there or "look suspicious," it would seem a clear case of racial profiling.
But the kinds of numbers that departments are collecting don't make for clear-cut cases.
"You need additional facts in order to know whether that is true or false," Schlanger says. "The statistics alone can't make the case of intentional discrimination."