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July 15, 2013

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Comments

Ryan Gerasimowicz

The report is not completely scientific because it only considers two variables: arrest rates and drug use rates. Aren't there many other variables that may change the outcome of the study?

Three things immediately come to mind:

1. Where are calls to the police coming from? If they're coming from wards that are disproportionately African-American, it should come as no surprise that it is African-Americans who are disproportionately being arrested.

2. What percentage of the arrests are of homeless people? It is public knowledge that a large percentage of the homeless population is black and have problems with drug addiction. This could be a contributing factor in the arrest numbers that doesn't result from racist police practices.

3. What percentage of people were arrested after using or selling drugs outside? If it is significant, wouldn't it be prudent to compare white and black drug use outside. This is a real consideration that may explain the discrepancy in arrest rates between whites and blacks.

This is just a hand full of the many variables that were left out of this report. Until we take a look at the entire picture, these serious problems will never be solved.

Phil F

In response to Uncle Bill's comments, each assertion made is incorrect. First, the report does not "assume" that each arrest is a different individual. Each arrest is in fact a separate incident, involving separate, identifiable people. Some arrests involve multiple charges, but are counted as only one arrest. Indeed, some people were arrested more than once in a year, but not more than once on the same day or incident, and were not counted as such.

Second, the data was provided by the Metropolitan Police, and was extremely detailed. The authors cautiously avoided "propaganda" and only reported the numbers, and what they reveal. Many inferences could be drawn from this data, but these were resisted.

Regarding ColorBlindJustice's comments, yours are simply baseless stereotypes based on too much television or other factors. Read the report and study the data before you comment. Overwhelmingly, people are arrested in DC on misdemeanors, not only drug possession but also disorderly conduct, traffic offenses, and the like. These are offenses that most of DC "commits" on a frequent basis (check the stats on marijuana usages), yet only one group is arrested for them.

The problem is not poor education or bad housing, which are certainly significant in other ways. The problem with the arrests is that the police are arresting too many black people for minor offenses. The reasons not too difficult to understand.

Uncle Bill

The report assumes that each arrest is a different individual, which may not be the case. In other words, the data are worthless unless some accounting is made as to whether the arrests are multiple arrests of a smaller group of individuals or whether they are each new and different individuals being arrested. It also assumes that no one person was arrested for more than one offense at a single time, which is also often the case.

Without such a clear accounting, the data are only sufficient for propaganda, not any meaningful science. Furthermore, the exclusion of conviction rates is problematic.

Finally, the report has two potential conclusions that the casual reader might make: 1) The DC police are racist, or 2) One race is responsible for more crime in DC.

Neither are probably correct, but because of the unprofessional methodology, no one can tell. It does stain the reputation of all the law-abiding blacks who live there, and that is an unacceptable outcome when the motive is no more than trying to make political points.

ColorBlindJustice

Why waste tax dollars on an investigation when it's obvious that, because largely fatherless minorities are much more likely to drop out of school before that social studies unit on the Fourth Amendment is taught, they're less likely to grasp the utilitarian virtues of selling and using drugs behind the privacy of closed doors? Unless Judge Urbina and other purveyors of the patronizing soft bigotry of low expectations wish to further define deviancy downward, they and the rest of us should acknowledge what is plain to see: Blacks get popped for drug possession more often than whites because they brazenly sell and use drugs in public spaces where they can be seen and videotaped by neighbors and police. Whites sell and use drugs as much or more, but most have enough sense to do so indoors.

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