The Woodlands Edition | April 2022

ADDRESS I NG THE I SSUES According to the Montgomery County Public Safety Community Plan, the county makes eorts to establish trust and improve communication between law enforcement and community members. COMMUNITY EFFORTS: DEPARTMENT EFFORTS:

law enforcement in Texas.” According to reports from Shenan- doah and Oak Ridge North police departments, the departments received no racial proling complaints in 2021. MCSO received one complaint alleging racial proling, and the com- plaint was deemed “unfounded,” according to the report. According to Montgomery County documents, an individual who wishes to le a racial proling or discrimina- tion complaint against a MCSO deputy may do so by contacting any on-duty supervisor or the MCSO Internal Aairs Unit. After an internal investi- gation, corrective action for any dep- uty shown to have engaged in racial proling is disciplined in accordance with policy outlined in the General Manual of Operations, according to county materials. Hudson said he believes external investigations should be a part of the process. “When there is not independence in that evaluation and their dis- ciplinary procedures, ocers can escape accountability for miscon- duct,” Hudson said. Trac stop data unreliability Members of law enforcement agen- cies and civil rights organizations agreed elements of the trac stop data may be unreliable. During analysis, trac stop data is compared to a variety of U.S. Cen- sus Bureau demographic data for the agency’s city or county. However, the data does not reect nonresident drivers stopped by law enforcement. Lawrence said he does not believe analyzing the reports are an eec- tive way to determine if an ocer or agency is engaging in racial proling. Instead, Lawrence said local leader- ship must monitor departments and enforce policies to stop potential racial proling practices.

Spencer attributed the disparities in MCSO trac stops to the demograph- ics of nearby counties and of nonresi- dent travelers. “In addition to sharing a geograph- ical boundary with Harris County, Montgomery County has two major roadway systems—I-45 and [Hwy.] 59—that share a common route with Harris County,” Spencer said in an email. “Logically, Montgomery County’s trac data is heavily inu- enced by Harris County’s population demographics.” A total of 885,517—or 18.7%—of the Harris County population is Black, and roughly 39,246 residents of Harris County commute to work in Montgomery County, according to 2020 decennial data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Shenandoah Police Department faces a similar issue when analyzing trac stop data. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the 2-square- mile city has a population of roughly 3,500, and the SPD report states 4,657 trac stops were conducted in 2021. SPD Lt. Jake Reuvers said the con- centration of entertainment and shop- ping centers, restaurants and 13 hotels in addition to the city’s proximity to Houston has a direct eect on the demographics of the drivers patrol comes in contact with. “It’s extremely rare for us to contact our residents from a criminal or traf- c enforcement standpoint in these areas,” Reuvers said in an email. Another obstacle to agencies being able to accurately analyze trac stop data is data collected on Hispanic and Latino populations may not be reli- able, according to Hudson. Referred to as the “Latino data problem,” ocers may not be able to decipher if an individual is Hispanic or Latino because Hispanic and Latino are ethnicities—not a racial group. Populations may be classied as white

Racial proling training

Community policing events

Body and vehicle cameras and audio equipment

National Night Out gatherings

Supervisory personnel who review in-car and body camera footage

Community events, such as Coee with a Cop


Social media outreach and communication

and the community. According to the plan, the MCSO conducts numer- ous community policing and out- reach events, such as National Night Out gatherings. Additional MCSO initiatives include a racial proling training for ocers— which are outlined by the TCOLE—and body and vehicle cameras. Spencer said there are procedures in place that prohibit racial bias in trac enforce- ment, such as supervisory personnel who proactively and routinely review in-car and body camera footage to ensure compliance with these policies. “All we can hope to end is the impact of racism in our law enforce- ment agencies,” Lawrence said. “We then need to look at what are the other dynamics that are causing this statistical anomaly and causing peo- ple of color to feel like law enforce- ment is targeting them unfairly? And let’s address that.” Jishnu Nair contributed to this report .

in the reports, which could result in inaccurate data, he said. “The problem is—under most cir- cumstances—[ocers] are discour- aged from either asking someone about their race or ethnicity, and [we are] discouraged about making assumptions about somebody’s race or ethnicity,” Lawrence said. “How is an ocer supposed to know?” Systemic solutions The Texas Oce of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division requires each county in Texas to have a public safety community plan to identify gaps in services regarding criminal justice issues. The Mont- gomery County Criminal Justice Com- munity Plan identies the need to establish trust and improve commu- nication between law enforcement and community members, stating national trends show increased public mistrust in law enforcement. According to the plan, the county aims to address the issue by producing policies and programs to improve com- munication between law enforcement

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