Minorities disproportionately arrested by Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, data shows

SPOKANE, Wash. — A preliminary study of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is showing racial disparity in the community when it comes to who is being arrested.

According to the initial data analysis provided by the sheriff’s office and NAACP, 6.6% of arrests were Black people, and yet the Black community only makes up 1.4% of the county’s population. This data is from January 2017 to July 2019.

Additionally, 2.9% of the arrests were Native American people. They also make up only 1.4% of the population.

“We do have a disparity in two of our demographic categories and we have to find out why,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

The data comes as the sheriff’s office and NAACP announce a Memorandum of Understanding. They signed an agreement to conduct a cultural audit of the sheriff’s office.

“We do have a disparity problem not only in Spokane, but in America,” said Curtis Hampton, a member of the Spokane Community Against Racism group, “and the only way that we can get this change is we all stand up and start saying that this is not the way we want to live.”

This was requested in September 2019 by the NAACP to improve the relationship between the sheriff’s office and communities of color, the NAACP said. Among this request, they also asked for some of the data provided at a press conference on Wednesday.

Other data is also being requested including a report on “stops, arrests and use of force that includes a breakdown by race, gender and areas/districts,” the agreement stated.

In the Memorandum of Understanding, the sheriff’s office has agreed to create a race equity strategic plan with the help of community partners.

The community has marched for change, and most recently called for the cancellation of the “Killology” training.

4 News Now’s Kaitlin Knapp asked where this fits into the conversation of community relationships.

“Quite frankly, a lot of information being put out about that is false,” Knezovich said. “Do you think any law enforcement CEO, chief, sheriff… would bring in training that trains law enforcement officers to kill without remorse? No. There’s no one that would ever do that. Because you would be sued and you would go to prison and that is the hypocrisy of what’s going on here.”

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Knezovich claims this is because of progressive socialists. The training is the psychological study of killing and the founder, Lt. Dave Grossman, says it “trains your mind to win.”

“It’s not just progressive liberals that are concerned about Killology,” said NAACP Vice President, Kiantha Duncan. “It’s really anyone who cares about the health of other people. Many people are concerned about this.”

The NAACP says their concerns go far beyond this.

“It’s not whether there’s a problem,” said NAACP President Kurtis Robinson. “It’s what is the real problem, getting to the root causes of that, dismantling that and for that to happen, we always have to start the conversation about race.”

Hampton said they’re there to fix the problem and they were there long before George Floyd.

Knezovich stated the next question about this data is what are the outcomes of the contacts deputies make with people, which is what they hope to answer when they do another data analysis like this in October. That data is expected to be out by mid-December.

“What we can do is say listen, here are our concerns. This is what is being said,” Duncan said. “How can we address those things and to my understanding, that’s what we’re doing at this point.”

“We only have one world. We all have to live here together so we all have to communicate,” Hampton said. “We have to get along and again, help our weak people. We’re a team.”

Knezovich said the audit will be done by an independent, unbiased resource.

You can watch the full conference HERE.

PAST COVERAGE: Community organizations call for cultural audit of Spokane Sheriff’s Office