At a recent Harker Heights City Council meeting, Police Chief Phil Gadd presented a racial profiling report for 2018 as required by the state of Texas.
Gadd informed council members that beginning in 2001, law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas, who routinely make traffic stops and issue citations, are required to provide a report of racial demographics of the individuals stopped and issued citations.At that time the report was to be issued to the agency’s governing body.
Since 2009, however, a report must be provided to the governing body but also to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement that provides standards and education for law enforcement.
The two reports required are full, such as the one presented to the council and to TCOLE. The fire department is exempt from filing this report because it doesn’t issue citations.
In an interview with the Herald a few days after the council meeting, Gadd explained how the Harker Heights Police Department prepares its data for the report.
It includes activity beginning Jan. 1 and lasting through March 1 of each year.
“We begin by gathering numbers from the Retail Trade Area Demographic profile compiled by the City and the Chamber of Commerce. It gives us a global view of this area we call the “Melting Pot” where an influx of people traverse through the City plus the deployment of the military to and from Fort Hood.”
During the 2018 calendar year, the HHPD conducted 5,602 vehicle-to-vehicle stops. In Heights; 54 percent of stops resulted in citations while 45 percent resulted in a written warning.
During the Feb. 26 meeting, City Manager David Mitchell, said, “I’d like to remind the council that officers are not allowed to ask the race of a person they have stopped for a violation. They must make that judgment on their own.”
In speaking to Gadd, Councilman Blomquist asked, “That seems awfully subjective on the part of your officers because you don’t know what their ethnicity is unless it’s obvious.”
Gadd said, “If a person is from out-of-state, that information could be available on their driver’s license; otherwise, we have to use our best guess and our training.”
Councilman Schiffman said, “So essentially you’re required to report it and not allowed to ascertain it?”
“The answer is ‘yes,’” said Gadd.
Gadd said, “All things considered, there are no indications that racial profiling exists in the city of Harker Heights. Supervisors are required to do periodic reviews of the camera systems and that other policies are being followed but there are no others to worry about.”
“I’m proud of our officers and our numbers indicate no evidence of racial profiling.
“Forty-five percent of violators in Harker Heights receive a verbal warning and officers know the ethnicity of 1 percent of those who have been stopped.”