Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 15, 2013

Racial-profiling report results given

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and Athens Police Department have filed 2012 racial-profiling reports with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires that all law-enforcement agencies report racial-profiling data to TCLEOSE, as well as their governing body.

The HCSO report was accepted by Commissioners Court on Monday, while the APD document will go before the City Council in the next few days.

HCSO Maj. Botie Hillhouse said because the Sheriff’s Office equips its vehicles with video cameras, they get a partial exemption from TCLEOSE, and are not required to submit a full report, which requires a much more detailed accounting of the traffic stops.

“For a normal traffic stop, the recordings are kept for 90 days. If it’s involved in a case, the recordings are kept longer than that,” Hillhouse said. “That way, if there’s a complaint, it gives us a place to go back and look.”

Hillhouse said the department hasn’t had a racial-profiling complaint filed since Sheriff Ray Nutt took office in 2009.

According to its report, the HCSO made 935 motor vehicle stops in 2012. Caucasian drivers accounted for 819 of the stops, followed by 70 Hispanic and 39 African-American.

In addition, seven of the drivers were of middle-eastern ethnic background.  Before stopping the vehicle, the officer did not know the ethnicity of the driver in 814 of the 935 occasions.

The ethnicity of the HCSO stops  reflect the general population of the county, where Caucasians make up 82 percent, Hispanic 9.6 percent and African-American 6.4 percent.

HCSO deputies issued citations in 878 of the stops, and made arrests on 57 other occasions. There were 192 searches reported, of which 164 were conducted with the driver’s consent.

Athens Police Department Chief Buddy Hill said there hasn’t been a racial-profiling complaint against his department in several years. He said the department monitors itself to guard against any acts of racial profiling. The APD also has video cameras in its patrol vehicles.

The APD reported 1,193 stops in 2012. Of those drivers, 562 were Caucasian, 360 Hispanic and 268 African-American.

APD also initiated stops on three Asian drivers.

APD officers were not aware of the ethnicity of the driver in 1,013 of the stops. The stops resulted in 1,096 citations, 34 in which only an arrest occurred, and 74 that produced both a citation and arrest.

Caucasians account for about 54 percent of the city’s population, with Hispanics making up 26.7 percent and African-American 17.4 percent.

Each law-enforcement agency is required to enact a policy defining the acts that constitute racial profiling, and prohibits those acts. They also must implement a process by which a person can file a complaint, and provide corrective action against a peace officer who is investigated, and found to have violated the rules.

Several other Henderson County law-enforcement agencies have also turned in their 2013 reports. Below are the statistics from their submissions:

• Brownsboro Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 2,131 total,  2,128 citation only, three for both citations and arrests

Race or Ethnicity: 1,605 Caucasian, 282 African- American, 197 Hispanic, 27 Middle Eastern, 20 Asian

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? – 2,130 no, one  yes

• Gun Barrel City Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 1,010 total, 776 citation only, 111 arrest only, 123 both citations and arrests

Race or Ethnicity: 912 Caucasian, 57 Hispanic, 35 African-American, six  Asian

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? – 921 no, 89 yes

• Payne Springs Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 1,287 total, 1,287 citation only

Race or Ethnicity: 1,287  total, 1,155 Caucasian, 62 African-American, 53 Hispanic, 13 Native American, four Asian

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? 1,287 no

• Caney City Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 367 total, 367 citation only

Race or Ethnicity: 323 Caucasian, 22 Hispanic, 21 African-American, one Asian

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? – 353 no, 14 yes

• Tool Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 485 total, 452 citation only, 22 arrest only, 11 both citations and arrests

Race or Ethnicity: 439 Caucasian, 28 Hispanic, 15 African-American, three  Middle Eastern

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? – 476 no, nine yes

• Trinidad Police Department

Number of motor vehicle stops: 867 total, 861 citation only, six both

Race or Ethnicity: 731 Caucasian, 111 African-American, 12 Hispanic, seven Asian, four Native American, two Middle Eastern

Race or Ethnicity known prior to stop? – 863 no, four  yes

The Malakoff Police Department filed for exemption, stating that the agency does not routinely make vehicle stops.