VALPARAISO | Porter County and Valparaiso police officials presented statistics last week that indicate there is no racial profiling being done by their officers when they make traffic stops.
Valparaiso Police Chief Michael Brickner and Porter County Sheriff David Lain shared the data with the city's Advisory Human Relations Council at its meeting in City Hall.
Brickner said his department is required to record the race and sex of drivers who are issued traffic warnings and citations.
For three months in 2013, Valpo police also manually recorded the race and sex of drivers who were just pulled over by police but not issued a warning or ticket, he said.
In January 2013, black males and females accounted for 2 percent of all traffic stops, while Hispanic males and females were just 1 percent, Brickner said. Statistics for July and October also showed low percentages for those demographic groups.
“There were no red flags of any inappropriate interactions in any of these categories,” Brickner said.
The Valparaiso police department also has received no complaints by residents alleging racial profiling, he said.
Brickner said all 51 of his officers have received eight hours of cultural diversity training as part of their academy studies, and all but 10 have graduated from the police executive leadership academy, which includes 16 hours of diversity training.
The chief said his department is committed to inclusiveness, and officers pledge to respect people of all races, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics that might be different from their own.
“Are we perfect? No. But we do hold ourselves to a very high standard,” Brickner said.
Lain said between January and October 2013, officers wrote 13,028 citations and warnings. Black drivers received 382 warnings and 235 citations, or about 4 percent.
Lain said that figure is in keeping with the county's overall number of black residents, which was 3.4 percent in 2012.
“We fit very well within acceptable parameters,” Lain said. “It puts us right where we should be.”
The sheriff also said he had received no complaints from residents regarding bias-based profiling, and he's committed to transparency and equal treatment for all who live in the county.
Brickner said police also are required to demographically represent the community they serve. Valparaiso has one black and six Hispanic officers and meets that requirement, he said.
Lain said he was frustrated because he's yet to have a sufficient number of minority candidates even apply. His department has no black officers, but it's “not for lack of trying,” he said.