A report released today by the U.S. Department of Justice faults police in Ferguson, Mo., for racial bias and unconstitutional practices. Below is a list, excerpted from the report, of several disturbing figures that support that accusation.
African Americans experience disparate impact in nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system. Despite making up 67 percent of the population, African Americans accounted for 85 percent of FPD’s traffic stops, 90 percent of FPD’s citations, and 93 percent of FPD’s arrests from 2012 to 2014.
African Americans are 2.07 times more likely to be searched during a vehicular stop but are 26 percent less likely to have contraband found on them during a search. They are 2.00 times more likely to receive a citation and 2.37 times more likely to be arrested following a vehicular stop.
African Americans have force used against them at disproportionately high rates, accounting for 88% of all cases from 2010 to August 2014 in which an FPD officer reported using force. In all 14 uses of force involving a canine bite for which we have information about the race of the person bitten, the person was African American.
African Americans are more likely to receive multiple citations during a single incident, receiving four or more citations on 73 occasions between October 2012 and July 2014, whereas non-African Americans received four or more citations only twice during that period.
African Americans account for 95 percent of Manner of Walking charges; 94 percent of all Fail to Comply charges; 92 percent of all Resisting Arrest charges; 92 percent of all Peace Disturbance charges; and 89 percent of all Failure to Obey charges.
African Americans are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the Municipal Judge, and in 2013 African Americans accounted for 92 percent of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.
African Americans account for 96 percent of known arrests made exclusively because of an outstanding municipal warrant.
As noted previously on Wonkblog, statistics can mislead, especially when it comes to police. In this case, though, the federal investigation produced overwhelming evidence that these disparities are due to bias in the criminal justice system, not to other factors.
The investigators go on to write that the focus of Ferguson police on black civilians likely does not contribute to public safety, and probably makes the job of police even more difficult by sowing mistrust among the city's majority-black population.
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