The Murphy Police Department didn’t receive any civilian complaints alleging an officer engaging in racial profiling last year, a consultant told the Murphy City Council at its March 2 meeting.
Eric Fritsch, director of Justice Research Consultants LLC, gave an annual racial profiling report, which included data on traffic stops and arrests in 2020. The city is in compliance with the state concerning a policy pertaining to racial profiling, officer training and education on racial profiling, the racial profiling complaint process and public education about the complaint process, and the collection of racial profiling data.
The city had 2,835 traffic stops in 2020, with this racial breakdown: white, 1,320, 47%; Black, 528, 19%; Asian/Pacific Island, 515, 17%; Hispanic/ Latino, 470, 18%; and Alaska native/American Indian, 2.
Fritsch said there are issues in assessing stop data, as a valid measure of the driving population does not exist and as a proxy, census data are used, which is problematic as a indicator of the driving population.
He also found that in less than 1% of traffic stops, the Murphy officer knew the driver’s race or ethnicity before the stop. He said that stat was right in line with Texas standards.
“In 2016, we did an analysis of 1,186 police agencies (and) about 3.25 million traffic stops, and 2.9% of the time, the officers knew the race/ethnicity of the person prior to the stop,” he said.
Mayor Scott Bradley asked how that determination was made, and Fritsch said the officers do self-reporting on whether they knew a person’s racial background before the stop.
More emphasis now is being placed on the three main post-stop outcomes, Fritsch said, which center on verbal warnings, arrests and citations. Other post-stop outcomes are written warning, written warning and arrest and verbal warning and arrest.
Arrests are rare, with Hispanic motorists being arrested the most at 1.49%. The other racial/ethnic groups have an arrest rate of less than 1%. Verbal warnings were given the most to Black motorists, at 53%, while citations were most prevalent to Hispanic motorists, at 54%. In the verbal warning category, percentages ranged from 37% to 53% when all four racial/ ethnic groups are figured in, and the citation group, the percentages run from 42% to 54%.
Searches, like arrests, are rare, with just 55 searches done on 2,835 stops. Contraband was found in 42 percent of the cases, with drugs found in most of the searches, at 78 percent.
By Don Munsch • [email protected]