George Floyd on Our Minds

While protests spread coast to coast, and local law enforcement condemn the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, data show that police use of force locally targets African Americans disproportionately.

In 2018, Montgomery County police officers were dispatched to 219,162 calls for service, made 18,592 arrests, and force was reported used in 542 incidents, according to the Montgomery County Police Annual Use of Force Report for 2018, the most recent available.

Police use of force incidents involved African Americans 55 percent of the time, according to the report, even though African Americans make up just 19.9 percent of the population of Montgomery County, according to the United States Census.

Latinos also make up 19.9 percent of the county, according to the Census, and were subject to 18.1 percent of the police use of force incidents, 98 of the 542 reports.

Montgomery County Police reported that police use of force incidents involved African Americans 298 of the 542 incidents; Caucasions in 139 incidents (25.5); Latinos in 98 incidents (18.1 percent); and Asians seven times (1.29 percent).

60.2 percent of the county is white, and 15.6 of the county is Asian, according to the Census.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, meanwhile, reported 510 use of force incidents in 2018, according to the Fairfax County Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau 2018 Annual Statistical Report.

“In 2018, there were 491,700 contacts between officers and community members. Of those contacts, there were 510 use of force incidents which equates to 0.10% of the total contacts,” according to the Fairfax County Police report.

While 9.7 percent of the Fairfax County population in 2018 was African American, police use of force incidents involved African Americans in 248 of the 510 cases, according to the Fairfax County report, which is 48.6 percent of the incidents. Fairfax County included county demographics from 2018 in the report.

The report indicates that police use of force incidents involved caucasian subjects in 186 incidents, 36.5 percent; 61.1 percent of the county population is white.

Hispanic subjects were involved in 107 of the 510 reports, 20.98 percent, when they make up 16.2 percent of the population in 2018, according to the report.

Asian subjects were involved in 17 use of force incidents, 3.3 percent, while they made up 19.5 of the county population.

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILES of the police forces in these jurisdictions show that the police force is whiter and less diverse than the communities they are sworn to protect.

In Montgomery County, 75 percent of officers are caucasian (60.2 percent of the population is white), 12 percent are African American (African Americans make up 19 percent of the county), 8 percent are Hispanic (Latinos make up 19 percent of the county population), and 5 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander, (who make up 15.6 percent of the population).

In Fairfax County, 80.24 percent of officers are white but the county is 61.1 percent white; 7.88 percent of officers are black and 9.7 percent of the population is black; 6.38 percent of officers are Hispanic/Latino while 16.2 percent of the county is Latino; and 5.5 percent of officers are listed as “other;” 19.5 percent of the Fairfax County population is Asian or Pacific Islander.

Of the 353 sworn personnel in Arlington, according to the Arlington County Police Department 2018 Annual Report, 290 officers are white (82.15 percent), 39 are African American (11.05 percent), 11 are Asian or Pacific Islander (3.12 percent), and 13 (3.68 percent) are “other or multi-racial.” The actual population of Arlington is 75.1 percent white, 9.6 percent black, 11 percent Asian and 15.8 percent Latino, according to the U.S. Census.

ALL JURISDICTIONS CONDEMNED the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“It has troubled all of us in law enforcement to observe events around this country, including what occurred in Minneapolis where the sanctity of Mr. Floyd’s life was ignored and other officers did not intervene to preserve another precious life,” said Fairfax County Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. “As a reminder, we have updated our use of force policies over the years using the co-production of policing model, vetted our policies and training through the Public Safety Committee, and we continue to leverage the partnerships created with community members who were part of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.”

Roessler added: “Additionally, we are grateful for the external accountability measures from the Police Civilian Review Panel, [and] the Independent Police Auditor.

“No law enforcement officer has ever been trained to take the actions that those officers took; they have been trained to do the exact opposite,” said Alexandria City Sheriff Dana Lawhorne. “This event is a tragic reminder that we, as law enforcement officers, must do more to hold each other to the high standard of conduct that is expected and demanded by those we serve.”

“It is impossible for us to achieve our mission if we lose the trust of our community,” said Arlington County Chief of Police M. Jay Farr.

Montgomery County didn’t mince words.

According to the Montgomery County Council, “Once again, America is in the crossfire, reeling from the pernicious effects of bigotry, racism and prejudice and from an inferno fueled by police brutality.”

Montgomery County’s report can be found at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/POL/Resources/Files/PDF/PDResources/Use%20of%20Force%20Report%202018_External_Final_0319.pdf

Fairfax County’s report can be found at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/sites/police/files/assets/documents/2018%20iab%20admin%20and%20use%20of%20force%20report.pdf

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