Report: Spokane Police use force on Blacks, Native Americans at disproportionate rate

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Police use force against Black and Native American arrestees more than other populations. The information was released in a comprehensive report Wednesday that tracks racial disparities in policing.

Spokane Police released the 300-plus page report commissioned by the department. The department also released the raw data “in an ongoing effort to provide the community continuing transparency.”

The report says that “Black suspects are nearly three times more likely to be identified in crime reports as we would expect based on their population. Native American suspects are 68% more likely to be identified as a suspect in a reported crime.”

Writers of the report suggest some of that is the fault of victim bias.

“There were no disparities by race in stops or arrests, but Black and Native American subjects were slightly more likely to have force used against them during an arrest. The largest racial disparities were observed in discretionary searches that occurred after a traffic stop. However, that search data should be viewed with caution since the total number of searches examined was only 256.”

The report states that when white or Asian subjects are arrested, they are equally likely to have force used against them. Black subjects are 22% more likely to have forced used against them and Native Americans are 49% more likely.”

“The findings show that it is unlikely that Spokane Police officers are engaged in systemic biased practices against any particular demographic group. The data also suggests that the racial groups that are typically viewed as the targets of police racial bias (Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans) have the lowest risk of being discriminated against during encounters where officers have a high level of discretion in making law enforcement decisions. The analysis shows that in those cases where officers have the highest levels of discretion, Black, Native American, and Juvenile Subjects have the lowest risk of encountering officer bias in law enforcement decisions. These Bias Risk Scores only apply to systemic officer bias. Individual acts of officer bias should not impact the overall Risk Scores, but systemic and repeated acts of bias would.”

The report says Spokane Police have already made some changes and plans that will help them address these issues. It recommends the department continue to post reports, plans and policies online for the community to review. The report recommends the department improve the way it collects data and provides more meaningful reports to the community.

“This is a challenging time for most law enforcement agencies in the United States including the Spokane Police Department. It is also a difficult time to be releasing a report that examines racial disparities in policing,” the report says. “The goal of this report is not to support any single position or point of view, but instead to provide useful law enforcement data and context so that the local stakeholders in Spokane can begin to have an informed data-driven discussion about these controversial issues. There is no quantitative statistic that can confirm or deny the existence of racial bias or racial profiling by police officers.”

Additional data presented at a press conference held by Spokane Police shows men are 39% more likely to be involved in reported crimes than expected based on their population, which accounts for 49% of Spokane residents. Men are also more likely to have force used against them, with Black and Native Americans are also more likely to have force used against them after they are arrested.

You can read the full report at this link.

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