Police Monitor finds racial profiling in use of force incidents

The Austin Police Department used force on more than 1,600 people in 2014. APD says that number is low compared to their arrests. On the other hand, a new report by the police monitor shows there's a big difference when you look at racial groups.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, the police monitor talked about her 2014 review of APD. Use of force was one concern.

APD says they used force on 1,686 people in 2014, which is based on 48,649 arrests. In other words, 3.5 percent of arrests involved a response to resistance. APD says most of the force used was a level three, which is the lowest level.

For example: a stun gun or a strike to a target area by hand. Police Monitor Margo Frasier believes we need to take a closer look at racial disparity. Her review shows that African Americans were subject to use of force more often than Caucasians and Hispanics. That group was also targeted more often when it came to traffic stops and arrests.

Frasier would like to see a change.

"I know that in this community, African Americans in particular feel that they are not policed the same as other races. That is worthy of discussion and to resolve because there is a great deal put on a good relationship between the police and community. Respect is very important in solving crime and keeping the community safer," says Police Monitor Margo Frasier.

"The Austin Police Department is a data driven police department. We place our limited resources in the areas that are most needed and that's based on where crime is concentrated. Crime tends to concentrate in communities that are of lower socioeconomic status, that is seen here as well as across the country. Unfortunately, the minority populations tend to be over-represented in those communities," says Brian Manley, chief of staff, Austin Police Department.

APD says they have hired someone to audit the 2013 and 2014 racial profiling reports, audit current data and author the 2015 racial profiling report.

According to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund...

  • 124 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2015, a four percent increase from 2014. 
  • 42 officers were killed by gunfire.
  • Of those, seven officers were shot and killed during traffic stops.
  • Texas had the highest number of fatalities losing twelve officers in 2015.




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