Blacks, Hispanics and homeless people are much more likely to be stopped by Phoenix police, report says

PHOENIX (AZFamille) — The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released the findings of a years-long investigation into discriminatory and illegal policing practices involving the Phoenix Police Department.

Specifically, it says the department violated constitutional protections for minorities and the homeless.

Here's what the data shows.

Between January 2016 and March 2022, homeless people accounted for more than 37% of arrests. Less than 1% of Phoenix residents are homeless.

It's no secret that the nation's fifth-largest city has had problems reducing homelessness in recent years.

Like any large, booming metropolitan area, with a rapidly growing population, along with other economic factors like inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals and families are struggling to afford the cost of life.

The city of Phoenix has implemented several programs since 2017 to combat homelessness.

However, the DOJ says the city's police department has failed to ensure the civil rights of homeless people.

The DOJ says Phoenix police “stop, detain, and arrest homeless people without reasonable suspicion that they are engaged in criminal activity.” It also alleges “property belonging to homeless people without adequate notice or opportunity to recover their property.”

Black drivers are 144% more likely to be stopped for traffic violations than white drivers. Hispanics are 40% more likely to be cited or arrested.

Phoenix police are also accused of discriminatory enforcement of traffic violations. The Justice Department says officers often spend more than 25 percent of their time conducting traffic stops and noted that although the city has a similar makeup of whites and Hispanics, the department cites or arrests Hispanics at a rate three times higher than whites.

The federal government says Hispanics are 12 times more likely to be cited or arrested for poor window tint, seven times more likely for license plates and lights, and more than eight times for screeching tires.

While blacks make up only 7.4 percent of the city's population, per capita, they are three times more likely to be cited or stopped for traffic violations, four times more likely for license plate lights. registration and three times more often for poorly tinted windows.

Alcohol laws are disproportionately enforced on Native Americans

Arizona is well known for having one of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country. As a zero-tolerance state, an officer has the discretion to cite or arrest someone for drunk driving even if they are below the legal limit, which is 0.08 in Arizona .

Even with these laws in place, a report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation ranked Arizona 8th for most drunk driving deaths in the state. 716 people were killed by drunk drivers on our roads between 2020 and 2021, the report said.

Other studies have shown similar statistics.

However, the Justice Department noted “stark disparities” in how these laws were applied to the Native American population, with Native Americans being 44 times more likely to be cited or arrested for possession or consumption of alcohol.

“Agents were 27 percent more likely to release whites in 30 minutes or less, while they detained Native Americans accused of the same behavior for more than 30 minutes,” the report said.

Black men overwhelmingly cited or arrested for marijuana possession in Phoenix

A 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union states that Black people “are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession.” In Phoenix, according to the DOJ, that number is almost double. In contrast, Hispanics are three times more likely to be cited or arrested.

But it's not just about the frequency of citations, but also about how these same people seem to be treated based on their race or nationality.

“Officers were 11 percent more likely to take no action against whites for minor drug offenses, while officers cited or arrested blacks arrested for the same crimes,” federal officials said.

When it comes to drug offenses overall, federal authorities say officers were 27 percent more likely to release white people within 30 minutes or less.

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