BEHIND THE WHEEL The Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce must submit racial proling reports, which require ocers to compile data on every trac stop conducted.
TRAFFIC STOP DEMOGRAPHICS BREAKDOWN
2021 MCSO trac stops
Montgomery County demographics
“Based on our report, we believe our deputies are fair, impartial and are focused on improving the safety of our roadways.” Lt. Scott Spencer, Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce
Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce Lt. Scott Spencer attributed the racial disparities in trac stops to the demographics of nearby counties and nonresident travelers’ impact on the trac stop data.
White Black Hispanic/Latino Asian/Pacic Islander Alaska Native/American Indian Some other race Two or more races
Montgomery County population: 620,443
Total MCSO trac stops: 49,358
SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU 2020 DECENNIAL CENSUS DATA COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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because the data doesn’t match up, then we jump to the conclusion: It must be because of racism,” Lawrence said. “The fact of the matter is there are a billion reasons that can aect that data; racism on the part of the law enforcement ocers is simply one of them. Why are we assuming that has to be the primary cause when we now have 20 years’ worth of data that tells us that’s not the case?” The MCSO report shows Black driv- ers were arrested at higher rates; how- ever, 43.4% of arrests of Black drivers were due to an outstanding warrant, compared to 24.4% of white drivers arrested for outstanding warrants. According to the 2021 MCSO report on trac stops resulting in an ocer issuing a citation or a verbal or written warning, Black drivers received more citations than warnings when com- pared to white drivers despite being pulled over proportionally for simi- lar reasons. On stops of Black drivers that resulted in a citation or warning, 14.7% of the stops resulted in a cita- tion while 85.3% resulted in a warn- ing. Comparatively, 11.6% of the stops on white drivers resulted in a citation, while 88.4% resulted in a warning. Black drivers were also more likely to be searched with a search con- ducted on 6.3% of stops on Black driv- ers, according to 2021 MCSO data. As a result of the searches, contraband was found at a higher rate for Black drivers who were searched compared to white drivers who were searched, according to the data. “There should be little dierence in searches across racial and ethnic groups if everyone is treated equally by law enforcement,” Hudson said. “This data demonstrates that people of color are just treated dierently by
RACIAL PROFILING COMPLAINTS
reason for the stop and the result of the stop, among other points. In an email to Community Impact Newspaper , Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce Lt. Scott Spencer said the sheri’s oce reviewed and ana- lyzed the ndings of its 2021 racial proling report from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2021, and found no bias by deputies. However, Nick Hudson, policy and advocacy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said racial proling reports across Texas show Black drivers statewide are dis- proportionately pulled over, searched and arrested. “There is a long history of rational- ization and denial of racial disparities in policing,” Hudson said. “What is so important about these reports is that hard data moves us beyond accusa- tions and denials.” Report ndings TheMCSOmade 49,358 trac stops in 2021 with deputies reporting the race of the driver was unknown prior to the stop roughly 97% of the time. However, in the demographic breakdown of the trac stop data, 11.7% of stops were conducted on Black drivers despite Black people making up 5.5% of the county pop- ulation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 decennial census data. Comparatively, 59.9% of the stops involved white drivers, who make up 59.9% of the county population. Kevin Lawrence, the executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, said several factors cre- ate disparities in the report data other than racial proling. “If we assume there should be equity, then we look at the data
Was the race or ethnicity known prior to the stop?
REASON FOR STOP
Moving trac violation Pre-existing knowledge Vehicle trac
violation Violation of law
STOPS RESULTING IN CITATION OR WARNING
Verbal warning Citation
REASON FOR ARREST
Violation of penal code Violation of trac law Outstanding warrant
0.9% of stops resulted in an arrest.
1.4% of stops resulted in an arrest.
SEARCHES CONDUCTED Black drivers
Contraband discovered in 44.8% of searches
Contraband discovered in 37.8% of searches
SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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