HUDSON—One issue brought up at Columbia County Police Reform Panel meetings and elsewhere is the racial disparity in arrests. At the county panel’s December 2 meeting, county Sheriff David Bartlett presented a slide that breaks down by race arrests in 2019 made by the Sheriff’s Office.
“We do not do any hot-spot policing which targets minorities and certain groups,” the sheriff said. “We do not profile certain ethnic or racial groups to deter crime. We arrest people only for the offenses they commit, not their racial or ethnic background.”
According to the data on the slide, of the 1,259 arrests last year 67% were white, 24% African-American, and 7% Hispanic/Latino. The 2010 Census lists the county population as 90.6% white, 4.5% African-American, and 3.9% Hispanic/Latino. (Census data for Hispanic/Latino persons overlaps with data on race.)
As for the criminal charged faced by those who were arrested, last year 27% of the 1,259 arrests by the Sheriff’s Office were arrests for felonies. Of the white people arrested, only 22% were for felonies; for Black people arrested, 39% were for felonies.
And although white people made up 67% of all those arrested, they made up 82% of the arrests for DWI (driving while intoxicated) and 72% of the arrests for property crimes.
African-Americans made up 24% of those arrested, and 44% of those arrested were charged with violent crimes. Black people made up 10% of those arrested for DWI.
The chart breaks down the 1,259 arrests for “fingerprintable offenses,” as reported to the state and federal governments, by race and type of offense. The data (except for Census figures) come from Sheriff Bartlett’s presentation; the presentation gave the data in whole numbers. The percentages were calculated by The Columbia Paper.
‘We arrest people only for the offenses they commit, not their racial or ethnic background.’
Sheriff David Bartlett
The review of the figures on police arrests is part of the process of re-imagining all local police agencies ordered by the Governor Cuomo earlier this year following the killing in Minnesota by a police officer of George Floyd.
The reports with recommendations for change from police reform panels are due to be filed with the governor’s office by April 1, 2021.