Jan
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2018
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Village Council

Village Council— Blacks get more citations

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Over a six-year period from 2010 through 2016, police issued citations to African-American villagers at a significantly higher rate than to white villagers, according to a statistical study of local police data sponsored by the Justice System Task Force, or JSTF, and presented at Village Council’s Dec. 18 meeting.

“This analysis offers empirical support to anecdotal evidence from the black community that they feel singled out” by police, said JSTF consultant Beth Crandall to Council. Crandall had volunteered statistical analysis support to the group.

Specifically, the data showed that during that six-year period, about 13 percent of black villagers, or 65 out of 497 villagers, received at least one citation from local police. In comparison, about 9 percent of white villagers, or 285 out of 3,027, received a citation. Proportionally, blacks made up about 12 percent of the village population and whites about 80 percent, according to U.S. 2010 Census numbers.

During that time, African American men in the 25–34 and 49–55 age groups received substantially more written warnings from police than did white villagers, the data showed.

“The black community has known this for years,” Councilman Gerry Simms, who is black, said at the meeting. Going forward, he said, “How can we take some of that doubt and apprehension away from the black community so that we can feel like citizens, and not always be looking over our shoulder?”

JSTF data analysis results can be accessed online at yso.com, click on Council’s Dec. 18 packet.

The study was conducted by Mike Bottomley of the Wright State University Statistical Consulting Center, using data from local police provided by JSTF member John Hempfling. As well as data connected to race, the study also looked at how gender and age intersected with villagers receiving warnings and citations. It also found that young people, and especially young men, receive more citations and warnings than do other villagers.

The data study, which began last summer, was one part of the work of the JSTF, a citizen group appointed by Council, which for the past year has focused on improving policing in the village. The group has made recommendations to Council on a variety of police-related issues, including  revising guidelines for Taser use and the need for implicit bias training for officers. Council and Police Chief Brian Carlson have supported the recommendations, and some have already been implemented.

Studying available data about police behavior is one more way to address issues of how police relate to the community, according to JSTF member Pat Dewees, who with John Hempfling and Crandall focused on the data analysis.

“As a committee, we had a consensus that this was an important thing to do,” she said to Council, stating that looking closely at data “is central to creating transparency.”

At the meeting, JSTF members were clear that because of the exploratory nature of the analysis, conclusions could not be drawn about what caused the data results. 

“This sort of analysis doesn’t say why something happened,” Crandall said to Council. “It’s up to you as Council members and us as a community to take hold of these findings and decide what to do with them.”

Council members considered how best to use the data, with Karen Wintrow suggesting that the time frame of the current analysis, from 2010 to 2016, makes it less useful than one using current data, since many changes have been made already in local policing since new Police Chief Brian Carlson took the job earlier this year.

“Should we set 2017 as a new timeframe and more forward from that, rather than deal with the old data?” she asked.

Task Force member Al Schlueter also questioned the data, stating, “I’m not pleased with this analysis.” 

Specifically, he questioned results that could have been skewed by a few officers who appeared to be more affected by race than were others. In his own analysis of individual officers, according to Schlueter, he found a wide range of officer behavior, from an officer whose citations and warnings were issued to black villagers about 35 percent of the time, to one who issued warnings and citations to no black villagers.

The police department has undergone substantial turnover in recent years.

But while current data may be more relevant to current policing, the JSTF study data is still valuable, according to Dewees.

“This was consistent over three police chiefs,” she said. “It’s a concern.”

Council members asked that the JSTF study group look more closely at the data analysis to determine whether some aspects need further study, but also agreed that current data would be more useful.

“What’s most relevant is the period from when Chief Carlson started his job, then moving forward,” Council Vice President Brian Housh said.

And the data is also useful in providing the foundation for a community discussion on racial bias in local policing, according to Council member Judith Hempfling.

“It’s important to have that conversation,” she said.

  In other Council Dec. 18 business:

• Council unanimously approved the second and final reading of a resolution that reconfigures the Utility Dispute Resolution Board, giving the board more community representation and less Village staff representation.

• Council approved fourth quarter supplemental appropriations in the amount of  $1,442,613. The amount includes $408,812 for the general fund to cover the housing needs assessment and transfer of funds into the capital improvement fund; and $561,076 into the enterprise funds.

• Council approved adding the position of community outreach specialist to the Village organizational chart. The 30-hour weekly position, as recommended by the JSTF, aims to perform outreach to at-risk persons in the village. Funding for the position will come out of the police department budget. According to Council, Chief Carlson may now publicize the position.

• Council approved an emergency reading for a new fee schedule for transient guest lodging permits. Villagers who host Airbnb-like transient guest lodging quarters are asked to register with the Village and pay a $25 permit fee A new transient lodging guest tax takes effect Jan. 1, 2018, and the first tax payment is due in July 2018.

• Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of a connector bike path between Yellow Springs and Clifton. 

• Council unanimously adopted a Complete Streets policy for Yellow Springs. The policy aims to keep all forms of transportation in front of Village leaders when making decisions about streets and sidewalks, according to Housh.

• Council unanimously approved a 3 percent pay increase for Village Manager Patti Bates for 2018.

• Council unanimously approved a 2.5 percent  pay increase for Clerk of Council Judy Kintner for 2018. 

• Council members and Village staff thanked Wintrow and Simms, who are both stepping down from Council, for their service to the community. Council also unanimously passed resolutions honoring the service of the two departing Council members, who thanked their colleagues on Council along with staff. In their remarks, both Wintrow and Simms emphasized the need for more housing in Yellow Springs.

Council’s next regular meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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Village Council— Blacks get more citations

by Diane Chiddister