FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A Fort Worth City Council member is raising questions about the results of the police department’s racial profiling report.
Despite assurances that officers aren’t targeting minorities in traffic stops and searchers, Councilman Frank Moss says the raw numbers appear otherwise. “Without an explanation it looks as if there is racial profiling,” he said.
The report is a collection of information from all Fort Worth police traffic stops with an arrest or where a ticket was issued in 2010.
While police made the most motor vehicle-related contacts with Caucasian drivers, officers searched the vehicles of African American drivers the most.
Reports show that Blacks are also arrested nearly twice as often as Whites or Hispanics. “There needs to be some kind of explanation of why such a disproportionate number of African-Americans were arrested as relates to stops under the racial profiling report,” said Moss.
Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead stands by the report but adds the department is getting new computer software that will give even more detailed numbers. “Once we get that product inline and installed we can address that [possible profiling] at every level of supervision to ensure that’s not occurring,” Halstead said.
The new computer system, which will come on line this summer, will not only draw data on who officers are making contact with, but will also offer insight about when, where and how that contact was made. “We can see every individual employee,” Chief Halstead said of the new system. “What kind of force is used against what kind of person, how many stops were made, different races [pulled over] and what part of town.”
According to University of Texas at Arlington criminology expert Alex del Carmen, the true test, as to whether racial profiling is occurring, is how often contraband is actually found when police do searches of cars. “If no contraband was found then clearly you may have an issue relevant to racism,” he said. “If contraband is found in those searches then it rally constitutes good police work.”
But del Carmen went on to stress that, “It is very difficult to measure whether racism takes place inside a police department simply by looking at the numbers.”
State requires that all police departments collect traffic-related data and report the information to their local governing authority by March 1 of each year.