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During the February meeting of the City Commission, Sweetwater Police Chief Brian Frieda offered the annual report regarding racial profiling statistics, which was formally accepted by the commissioners during the meeting.
The process of conducting the report has undergone some change, but not only from the leadership of Frieda. New state legislation states that the report must now specify if race was known prior to the officer interacting with the person.
And while past reports were citation-based, the new report examines citations versus warnings and now falls under Tier 1 reporting. With Tier 1, the Sweetwater Police Department is able to have some exemptions due to their in-car camera system.
While the first quarter of 2012 took place under the leadership of former Police Chief Jim Kelley, Frieda implemented a new method of electronically gathering information for an even more accurate report.
In the year of 2012, 612 reportable motor vehicle stops were reported. From that number, 451 of the stops led to a citation only, while 159 stops led to only an arrest and 2 resulted in both a citation and arrest.
The reported stops were largely made up by Caucasians, with 329 contacts noted. Hispanics made up 225 of the stops, followed by 56 stops of African-Americans.
One Asian and one Native American were stopped, while no Middle Eastern individuals were stopped.
For the new aspect of the report--if race was known prior to the contact, the answer of yes was given 49 times. Thus, on 563 occasions the answer was no.
And out of the 612 total stops, 26 searches were conducted as a result. Twelve of the individuals gave their consent, while the remaining 14 did not offer consent.
The full report was compiled by Dr. Alex Del Carmen, a department chair at the University of Texas in Arlington and the author of "Racial Profiling in America".
An audit was also conducted by Dr. Del Carmen, which examined the methods of collecting data as well as any possible trends. As a result, there were no indications or anomalies to prove that racial profiling exists within the Sweetwater Police Department.
Chief Frieda stated that Dr. Del Carmen was "very thorough [as he] scrutinized the data." Prior to Dr. Del Carmen's work, SPD Officer Armando Renteria and Lieutenant Randy Hanes offered great assistance in gathering the necessary data and research.
Dr. Del Carmen's findings also noted that no written complaints were filed against the department in regards to racial profiling in 2012, and that all police department personnel have met the requirements and training standards from TCLEOSE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education) for racial profiling.
The report has already been submitted electronically to TCLEOSE prior to the March 1 deadline, in which Frieda went on to say that the state agency is the clearinghouse for all reports. The new state legislation has not only modernized the process, but also helps to clarify any information obtained, as other software used has proven to have glitches.
To prepare for the 2013 racial profiling report, Chief Frieda hopes to have all gathered information checked after each quarter, rather than a yearly assessment prior to the report. And to comply with state law, random reviews of in-car videos also assist in the racial profiling report, which allows the administration to address possible training needs or officer safety concerns.