Breckenridge Texan

Sheriff presents racial profile report to commissioners

Sheriff presents racial profile report to commissioners
January 23
15:54 2018

On Monday, Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt presented the Commissioners Court with his department’s annual racial profile report for 2017. He said that each year law enforcement agencies are required by the state to provide the report, which is more commonly called Bias Based Profiling Statistics, to their governing bodies, such as the commissioners courts for sheriff departments and city councils for city police departments.

Holt said his department made a total of 152 motor vehicle stops between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2017. Of those stops, 149 resulted in the driver receiving either a citation or a warning. In the other three stops, the driver was arrested in addition to receiving a citation or warning.

Holt said an example of a case where both an arrest was made and a citation or warning was given would be if a deputy stopped someone for speeding and then discovered that the driver had a warrant out on them or they had illegal drugs in the car.   

“In that case, they’re going to go to jail for that bigger offense, but they might get a ticket or warning for the original reason they were pulled over,” the sheriff said.

Breaking down the traffic stops by race, Holt said there were 115 Caucasians stopped, 30 Hispanics, 4 African Americans, 1 Asian, 1 Middle Eastern and 1 Native American.

Holt said percentage-wise that roughly mirrors the racial breakdown of Stephens County. He said based on recent Census Bureau estimates, Stephens County is 73 percent Caucasian and 22 percent Hispanic.

The traffic stops’ racial breakdown by percentage were 75.66 percent Caucasian, 19.74 percent Hispanic, 2.63 African American, and less than one percent Asian American, Native American and Middle Eastern respectively.

Holt said later that when comparing the census numbers to the racial breakdown on the traffic stops, all the different variables need to be considered.

He said, for example, if there is a community with an Interstate Highway running through it, the commuters who travel through the area could have an effect on the racial breakdown of the stops.

“It’s really not comparing apples to apples; you have to take in a lot of different variables,” Holt said. “There’s all kinds of weird nuances you have to take into consideration, but I don’t think we have many of those here in Breckenridge. But every community is going to have some type of little nuance like that.”

As for whether the driver’s race or ethnicity was known before the stop was made, Holt said, in most cases it was no. According to his report, in only 13 of the stops was the race or ethnicity of the driver known before the stop and 139 times is was not known.

“That’s pretty typical for most agencies,” Holt said. “The great majority of the time, the officer’s not going to know. Unless you’re moving really slow or the person passes by you going the same direction or you can see them in the rearview mirror, most of the time you’re not going to know the race before you pull them over.”

Holt also reported that of the 152 stops they made, deputies searched 10 of the vehicles. Eight of those searches were after consent was given by the driver, and in two cases consent was not given but the deputy had probable cause.

In other business during the meeting, commissioners approved a Western Surety Company Bond for Stephens County Constable Adam Babilon. They also acknowledged and filed for record a certificate of attendance for and completion of 20 hours of continued education for 2017 for County Clerk Jackie Ensey  from the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas.

 

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt presents the annual Racial Profile Report to the County Commissioners on Monday. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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