San Jose police are more likely to use force against blacks and Latinos than against criminal suspects from other ethnic groups, says a new department study quoted by the San Jose Mercury News. The first-of-a-kind report says less than 5 percent of the 34,000 arrests last year involved officers using some kind of force. The statistics on arrested minorities drew sharp questions from civil rights groups, the independent police auditor, and criminal justice experts. Police Chief Rob Davis said the numbers deserve further study. The report said 10 percent of those arrested were African-American, but 17 percent of those subjected to force were African-American. Latinos were subjected to force at a rate slightly above average.
The higher use-of-force statistics against blacks suggest two possibilities, said James Alan Fox, professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University at Boston: “Either there is something about the behavior of the arrestee that legitimately promotes the use of force, or because of race, officers are more apt to use force.” Rick Callendar of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said: “This isn’t socioeconomics, this is an out-of-control police department.”