Black Arrest Rates Skewed in Hundreds of US Cities


More than 1,500 American police departments arrest black people at rates even more skewed than in Ferguson, Mo., says USA Today. The list includes departments in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit. Those disparities are easier to measure than they are to explain. They could be a reflection of biased policing; they could just as easily be a byproduct of the vast economic and educational gaps that persist across much of the USA — factors closely tied to crime rates.

“That does not mean police are discriminating…It means you might have a problem, and you need to pay attention,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, a leading expert on racial profiling. Whatever the reasons, blacks are far more likely to be arrested than any other racial group. At least 70 departments arrested black people at a rate 10 times higher than people who are not black.

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