EWU/SPD study details officer contacts with civilians and race i - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

EWU/SPD study details officer contacts with civilians and race in Spokane

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Spokane Police Department Spokane Police Department
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A five month study of the Spokane Police Department's contact with minorities has resulted in a mixed bag of data. The study was prepared by a professor at Eastern Washington University in collaboration with the Spokane Police Department.

The study's goal was to examine how officers' perceptions of civilian race influenced contacts, so only incidents in which officers had a choice about who to contact were included. For a contact to be recorded in the database it had to meet these criteria: It had to be an in-person contact between a civilian and officer, and it had to be a contact that either involved an officer detaining a civilian, or Was likely to involve an officer detaining a civilian.

There were 7,021 contacts between civilians and SPD officers that met these criteria between March and August of 2014.

Among the data that the study shows, officers disproportionately stop black and Native American residents, but don't display a pattern of racial bias when deciding who to search and arrest.

The study also showed that Officer Use of Force is a rare occurrence, happening in only 22 contacts. That's only 0.3% of all the contacts analyzed. Race, according to the study, was not a significant factor relating to use of force.

Below are some other findings from the study:

Racial disproportionality was observed for the rate of contacts. African Americans are 2.5% of The City of Spokane population and were 6.1% of contacts. Native Americans are 1.7% of the city population and were 3% of contacts. These differences between population and civilian-officer contact proportions were statistically significant.

Arrests

Of the 7,021 contacts there were 632 arrests made, which was 9% of all contacts. Racial disproportionality was observed for the rate of arrests. African Americans were 6.1% of contacts and 10.9% of civilians who were arrested. Native Americans were 3% of contacts and 7.6% of civilians who were arrested.

Of the 632 arrests made, 318 (50.3%) were for a new charge and 314 (49.7%) were for a warrant. The proportions of members of different racial groups arrested for new charges or warrants are very similar to each other and to the overall proportions for the entire group of arrestees.

Searches

Of the 7,021 contacts 570 searches were conducted, which was 8.1% of all contacts. Racial disproportionality was observed for the rate of arrests. African Americans were 6.1% of contacts and 10.4% of civilians who were searched. Native Americans were 3% of contacts and 8.4% of civilians who were searched.

Of the 570 searches reported in the data there were 490 (86%) that included data about the reason for the search. Nearly 96% of searches were post-arrest and nearly 4% were officer safety frisks. Members of each racial group were searched for these reasons at very similar rates.

Spokane police say this initial analysis "represents a progressive and introspective approach to initiating community conversations regarding the dynamics of citizen-police contacts."

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