Harris County identifies racial disparities in use of force, citations from law enforcement agencies

Officials with the Harris County Justice Administration Department said they identified racial disparities in citations and use of force by law enforcement, among other areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Officials with the Harris County Justice Administration Department said they identified racial disparities in citations and use of force by law enforcement, among other areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Officials with the Harris County Justice Administration Department said they identified racial disparities in citations and use of force by law enforcement, among other areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The Harris County Justice Administration Department presented a report to Commissioners Court on June 8 following a unanimously approved motion for the department to “analyze existing racial profiling data produced by law enforcement” approximately one year earlier.

“It’s not about trying to catch anybody or have any gotchas, but obviously, we should know if there is a challenge, and if there is, we ought to work to take steps to correct it,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said.

Analysis in the report included racial demographics in instances of consent search, contraband discovery, traffic stops that led to arrests, types of citations or warnings, and use of force. According to the report, the department analyzed data pulled from racial profiling reports publicized by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement annually.

“Overall, [the department] did not identify significant disparities in most comparisons,” JAD Research Policy Analyst Matthew Sweeney said. “However, we did identify disparities in citations, incidents involving force resulting in bodily injury and limitations in complaint submission.”

For instance, Hispanic drivers were more likely to receive citations in most departments, and Black drivers overall were more likely to experience bodily injury as a result of use of force than other racial and ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic drivers were also more likely to be arrested in a traffic stop.

However, Sweeney said there were many limitations in the data. Law enforcement agencies did not always report incidents by racial demographics, and population demographics cannot be used as a comparison because constable precincts are not within measurable areas.


Recommendations from the JAD included updating the county’s data-collection process to include more mandatory fields in an attempt to reduce missing data.

Officials also said agencies should establish an accessible online platform where the public can submit complaints or commendations about law enforcement interactions. Most departments currently do not have online submission forms and/or forms in multiple languages to file racial profiling complaints, Sweeney said.

See the full report below:

By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.



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