Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Annual racial profiling data analysis released

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition today released this year's analysis of Texas' racial profiling data from traffic stops performed by Texas law enforcement agencies. The study focuses in particular on the relative frequency of "consent searches," not just by race but also disparities between different, often comparable agencies. I'll have more soon analyzing its contents, but for now here's a copy for the report (pdf) for those interested. (Congrats to Molly Totman, the report's author and the principal manager of TCJC's de facto statewide repository of racial profiling data.)

These data are for the calendar year 2005 and were reported to local governing bodies in spring 2006. Each year since the inception of the law, TCJC has gathered these reports under open records requests and compared traffic stop data across agencies in an annual analysis. Here's the press release TCJC issued today along with this year's study:

TCJC commends State Senator Royce West for filing bill to address continued problems with way agencies collect and report required racial profiling data, and Representative Senfronia Thompson for commitment to see bill through in House (Austin)

Law enforcement agencies continue to have problems complying with the data collection and reporting requirements of Texas’ racial profiling law, according to a report released today by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) titled Smarter Policing Practices: Creating a Safer, More Unified Texas. As a result, local community members and officials are prevented from knowing what is truly going on at traffic stops in their areas. Agencies are also unable to compare their data to other agencies’ data to determine if there are improvements to be made, or if there are practices they should be implementing to best allocate officer resources and increase public safety.

“Policy-makers must ensure that our state law enforcement agencies are providing value-driven police services throughout Texas,” said Ana Yáñez-Correa, Executive Director of TCJC. “But effective community policing models can only be implemented if a full range of uniform data is collected and reported by Texas agencies.”

The report offers major policy solutions – founded in statistical research and based on the feedback of both community members and law enforcement – that would address the problems facing law enforcement as they undergo mandated data collection and reporting processes. For instance, policy suggestions include the establishment of a statewide repository for racial profiling reports that could oversee data compliance issues; creation of a uniform, standardized reporting format that would help law enforcement agencies comply with Texas’ racial profiling law; and the required collection of three additional data elements at traffic stops to improve data accuracy and provide a clearer understanding of what is happening at stops.

TCJC, which is the current statewide repository and analyst of required, annual racial profiling reports from Texas law enforcement agencies, is also the only source of cross-agency monitoring. Researchers found that nearly 10% of surveyed agencies did not report all required data elements, while 20% did not break out all data elements by required racial categories.

“It is no longer excusable that some agencies continue to comply with the racial profiling law year in and year out, while others never do,” said Molly Totman, Policy Analyst for TCJC and author of the report. “Both agencies and the community benefit when data is sound, reliable, and uniformly reported. Most importantly, police supervisors are equipped to make informed and internal policy changes to improve the way they protect the public and better ensure a mutual relationship of confidence and community trust.”

To assist law enforcement in their efforts to comply with the racial profiling law, State Senator Royce West (D, Dallas) filed a bill in the Texas Legislature on March 8, 2007, that calls for a repository to be established at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE), the Austin-based state agency responsible for developing and implementing training program curricula for peace officers. This bill will require agencies to submit their annual racial profiling reports to the statewide repository for analysis. Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) will carry the legislation forward in the House of Representatives when the bill passes out of the Senate.

“We commend both Senator West and Representative Thompson for their efforts to strengthen the existing racial profiling law by ensuring all Texas law enforcement agencies provide us with a full picture of what is happening at traffic stops and have the tools to put in place policies that will increase public safety,” said Totman.
Please go to our website for a full explanation of the report’s recommendations, as well as a city-specific fact sheets for the following areas:

Beaumont/Port Arthur
Bryan/College Station
Corpus Christi
Dallas/Fort Worth
El Paso
San Angelo
San Antonio
Wichita Falls

For information on the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition’s work in support of fair, effective police practices that improve the safety of our communities, see our webpage on the topic.
See prior, related Grits coverage:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to begin by thanking you, you are truly God sent, I was alerted about Congress listening to our horror stories concerning TYC on your web-site THANK YOU for that information, I immediately gathered mothers together and off we went to tell our horror stories concerning "The Friendly Frontier", the feeling of peace came over me which is something I haven't had since the day they arrested my son in May of 2005 and still awaiting trial locked-down he never knows if it's day or night once again thank you,
Anita Guajardo