The weekly Austin, Tx., Chronicle has taken issue with important aspects of a series of articles last week by the daily Austin American-Statesman concluding that the city’s police department Austin police used force against Hispanic and African-American residents “at significantly higher rates than they did against whites.” The daily reported that Hispanics are 25% more likely to have force used against them, and African-Americans are 100% more likely to have force used against them, than are whites. The Chronicle’s own analysis concludes that the figures “appear to be dramatically exaggerated – indeed, almost entirely untrue.”
The Chronicle says the American-Statesman “compared two sets of data that bear little relation to one another, while ignoring the more obvious and accurate approach used by the city itself to analyze its own data. The Statesman-American’s series began Jan. 25 and can be found via Crime & Justice News’s archive.
The dispute involves a calculation by the daily of a “rate of force,” which involved comparing reports on police use of force to a database of other contacts between citizens and police. The Chronicle charges that this comparison fails to “reflect the real circumstances under which a person is likely to be met with police force.”