HPD Invites Reviews of Racial Profiling Data, Seeks
March 7, 2005 -- In response
to a just released report of racial profiling data compiled by
the Houston Police Department for 2004, Police Chief Harold L.
Hurtt emphasized that the department welcomes and seriously considers
any and all reviews of its racial profiling statistics and policies.
Chief Hurtt announced today he is leading a delegation
supported by police chiefs from the state's six largest cities
in proposing legislative changes to racial profiling laws. The
chief is urging more collection of useful data and less of irrelevant
data, such as tabulating data where police officers have no discretion
as to who they will detain when called to a particular location
on a dispatched call. Chief Hurtt has asked a state senator and
a house representative to carry a bill in Austin on the proposed
changes that include the following:
- Require all police agencies to collect data
on traffic stops whether a citation was issued or not.
- Require all police agencies to send racial
profiling data annually to the Department of Public Safety.
- Eliminate some data collection and modify
other data into a revised Code of Criminal Procedures. Such
changes would eliminate data collection for pedestrian stops.
Pedestrian stops include data collected by police
officers for activity that is not discretionary. Those include
detentions based on warrants, request for police service to a
location resulting in a detention or arrest, and arrests by officers
after a person has been detained by another citizen or security
guard. Collection of this type of data calls into question the
reliability and validity of any information collected as a result
of racial profiling laws.
The proposed changes to the legislation will
require all police departments in Texas to collect data where
abuse has been discovered in other states -- namely in traffic
stops, the impetus behind the original racial profiling laws.
Previous studies, like the one released one year
ago, indicated that "aggregate statistics alone cannot prove
or disprove racial profiling." Those findings also hold true
in the recently released Racial Profiling Statistical Report.
"We in the Houston law enforcement community welcome more
research, more collected data and greater in-depth analysis collected
at a statewide level to help determine what the numbers really
mean," said Chief Hurtt.
Chief Hurtt said data collected in the 2004 report
does not indicate that racial profiling is occurring in the city.
"Our early and still ongoing analysis has shown a strong
correlation between pedestrian stops and searches in areas that
have a high volume of street-level narcotics activity compared
to those areas that do not," the chief said. "It's also
important to note that of the more than 785,000 detentions/stops
our officers made in 2004, there were only five complaints received
alleging racial profiling by our officers."
Chief Hurtt feels it is important for the public
to realize that HPD mandated the collection of racial profiling
data before this was required by law. Moreover, HPD supported
the legislation that currently requires all law enforcement agencies
to collect and report racial profiling data.
"We are urging the state legislature to
pass these amendments we're proposing to help collect data that
is useful for proper analysis, less burdensome for police departments
and more meaningful to the public," Chief Hurtt concluded.
For additional information, please
contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.