Blacks suffer disproportionately from crime, police say

Mar. 01, 2014 @ 03:29 PM

\While it’s true blacks in Durham are searched and arrested out of proportion to their share of the overall population, they’re also the victims of crime more often than other ethnic groups, Police Department commanders say.

That pattern holds in all five of the department’s patrol districts, and is especially true for violent crimes like homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, they said in a new report to the city’s Human Relations Commission.

The report continued the department’s response to allegations of racial profiling lodged by groups like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Durham chapter of the NAACP.

Police officials argued that the groups aren’t necessarily in tune with the wishes of local residents.

The victimization numbers “might explain why the broader black community is not complaining about too much policing in their neighborhoods but are instead asking for more,” the report said.

Also “perplexing [is] why any social activist group professing to represent the best interests of the black community would attack a police department whose community outreach and enforcement efforts are attempting to address the needs of this same black community,” it said.

Commanders filed the report after the Human Relations Commission wrapped up a series of public hearings that gave the Southern Coalition and affiliated groups a chance to sound off about the department’s practices.

The panel is about to begin work on a report to the City Council offering elected officials advice on how to address the profiling allegations.

During the commission hearings, police acknowledged that they search and arrest blacks out of proportion to their share of the overall population.

They “can’t even pretend” the arrest numbers are less than shocking, Deputy Police Chief Anthony Marsh said in December.

But their early reports didn’t have any victimization statistics. The new report corrected that omission for the half-decade from 2008 to 2012.

Looking broadly at crime, blacks made up 66 percent of the victims in District 1, 48 percent in District 2, 38 percent in District 3, 67 percent in District 4 and 48 percent in District 5.

District 1 covers east Durham; 62 percent of the people living there are black. District 2, covering north Durham is 37 black. District 3, southwest Durham, is 23 percent black and District 4 in south and southeast Durham is 54 percent black.

District 5 covers the downtown business district and has comparatively few residents. Of those living there, 33 percent are black.

The pattern is “even more noticeable” for the major categories of “Part 1” violent crime the department reports to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Looking only at homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, blacks were the victims in 66 percent of District 1’s cases, 57 percent of District 2’s, 48 percent of District 3’s, 77 percent of District 4’s and 60 percent of District 5’s.

Marsh and other commanders have argued that disparities in search and arrest numbers aren’t proof of biased policing, especially when many victims describe their attackers as black.