In today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, a report about the two officers who pulled over Philando Castille came out. The headline declared, “Officers who pulled over Philando Castile not zealous traffic enforcers.” The justification for the headline was that Jeronimo Yanez, the man who shot and killed Mr. Castille, gave the fifth highest number of tickets compared to his fellow officers since 2014. His partner in pulling over Mr. Castille, Officer Joseph Kauser, was ranked seventh in the number of tickets he gave out compared to his fellow officers.
A discussion of whether there was an excessive number of tickets being given out by the department-as-a-whole is not brought up. Perhaps everybody in the department is being zealous? It’s hard to say. Based on the comments of citizens in the article, it certainly sounds like people feel too many tickets are given in the jurisdiction of St. Anthony police. More specifically, black people think they are especially at risk.
On top of the sheer number of tickets issued, data analysts attempted to determine if there was racial profiling. The data isn’t perfect, because race information isn’t collected for warnings or minor offenses. So, they use what data they do have. It shows Officer Yanez pulled over African Americans 18% of the time, and his partner, Officer Kauser did so 23% of the time. They each had unknown race data between 25% and 9% of the time respectively.
The population of African Americans in the St Anthony-Falcon Heights-Lauderdale police district is 8%, although a higher percentage likely travels along Larpenteur Ave., a heavily traveled road spanning across the area. Being generous, perhaps 12% to upwards of 19% of the population using the road is African-American. Here is where things get ridiculous. Instead of just saying, black people are clearly being pulled over at levels exceeding their percentage of the population, the officials hem and haw by saying, “it is not possible to draw conclusions about racial profiling.”
Pardon me, but bullshit. We can absolutely conclude racial profiling has been happening when the average percentage of African Americans pulled over by the police in St. Anthony is 23%. The total population of black people in the Twin Cities is 18.6% in Minneapolis and 13.5% in St. Paul, the two cities surrounding St. Anthony. Huge numbers of black people from the Twin Cities would have to be traveling through St. Anthony to reach the 23% average they are so sure doesn’t tell us enough to reflect racial profiling.
Racial map of the Twin Cities (source in comments)
A .jpg image . Racial map of the Twin Cities (source in comments)
The headline is misleading. The content is misleading. People are left with false impressions, because “data is incomplete.” Data is rarely complete for researchers in this world. Extrapolating data is a necessity for all kinds of research, but when it comes to racial profiling, suddenly our hands are tied. It’s time to use common sense. It’s time to admit the truth.