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Police Strategies LLC Report on SPD Police Interaction

Julie Humphreys – Communication Manager, Spokane Police

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Updated April 27, 2021

The Spokane Police Department commissions a data driven report on SPD interactions with community members looking at demographics such as sex, age, and race

The detailed, 300 page report is a comprehensive analysis of police contacts focusing on SPD data. The research methodology used in the report incorporates several activity-based benchmarks rather than the traditional population-based benchmark. SPD sought a more in-depth study of our data and chose Police Strategies LLC, the company that developed the Spokane Office of the Police Ombudsman’s (OPO) Use of Force dashboard system, which allowed them to complete a detailed disparity analysis of use of force incidents. Police Strategies recommends that law enforcement agencies collect and analyze performance-based metrics that will support data-driven decision making and the development of evidence-based solutions.

Here are some key findings:

Notes; *Reported crimes are incidents the public calls into Spokane Police via 911, Crime Check, or otherwise where an officer follows up on the incident making contact with a victim, witness, or suspect. Reported crimes also include officer-initiated stops where an officer observes criminal activity and intervenes.*

* Data used for this report was from January 1, 2017 through the end of June, 2020*

Reported crime suspects compared to Spokane population;

SEX Males were more than twice as likely as females to be suspects in reported crimes
AGE Under 18 More than 50% less likely
18 to 30 About 75% more likely to be named as a crime suspect
31 to 49 About 75% more likely to be named as a crime suspect
50-plus More than 50% less likely
RACE Black Nearly three times more likely
Native American 68% more likely
Asian 65% less likely

Police stops compared to reported crime suspects; demographic equally, less, or more likely to be stopped by police compared to their proportion of reported crime suspects

SEX Males and females equally likely to be stopped by police
AGE Under 18 47% less likely
18 to 30 22% less likely
31 to 49 Equally likely
50-plus 70% more likely
RACE All races Equally likely to be stopped

Arrests compared to stops; proportion of arrests compared to proportion of stops made by police

SEX Males and females equally likely to be arrested
AGE Under 18 Equally likely
18 to 30 Equally likely
31 to 49 Equally likely
50-plus 31% less likely
RACE All races Equally likely

In cases where officers have a very high amount of discretion (i.e., officer pulls someone over for a minor traffic violation and can either write them a ticket or a warning)

RACE Black 46% less likely to have law enforcement action applied (i.e., citation, arrest)
Native American 76% less likely
Asian More likely
Hispanic/Latinx Proportional action applied

Use of force compared to arrests;

SEX Males more than four times more likely than females to have force used against them
AGE Under 18 Equally likely
18 to 30 Equally likely
31 to 49 Equally likely
50-plus 54% less likely
RACE Black 22% more likely
Native American 49% more likely

* A key finding noted in the report is the relationship between use of force and resistance. It reads, “Almost all use of force incidents are associated with an attempt by an officer to bring an individual into custody. If a suspect resists a lawful arrest of detention, then it is usually necessary for the officer to use some type of force to gain control of the suspect.””*

Consent searches made after a traffic stop AND Searches for officer safety made after a traffic stop; *Data was also analyzed for these two categories in the same two and a half year period, however the author notes that the data is too limited to draw any meaningful conclusions even when including data from additional years. For further information see page 21 of the report*

General Conclusions:

While the report focused on police data regarding demographics of sex, age, and race, the authors’ contend a number of other factors greatly influence criminal behavior including poverty, unemployment, education, health care and housing.

The authors' conclude no significant racial disparities are observed in police stops or arrests when applying the activity-based research methodology.

The findings show 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, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native Americans) are not more likely to have enforcement actions taken against them 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 being subjected to enforcement actions.

The full report can be found on the City of Spokane's website

Additionally, based on recommendations from the authors of the study and input from the Spokane community, the Spokane Police Department is increasing transparency by providing the raw data used in the study. This data maintains individual privacy, while providing information about officer interactions with individuals reported as suspects or involved in traffic stops. The initial data release will include data from the study itself – January 1, 2017 through the end of June, 2020. Beginning in April, 2021, SPD will update the data on a monthly basis using the City of Spokane’s Open Data platform. The department has also produced a companion document to provide detailed information about each data element to aid in understanding the information presented which is also available online. The guide and open data information can be found below.

Related Documents

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Julie Humphreys