56 percent of Decatur Police stops are non-white

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 7, 2014
Decatur Police Officers compare notes in the parking lot of Decatur High. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur Police Officers compare notes in the parking lot of Decatur High. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur Police made 2,149 stops between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, and 56 percent of them involved minorities.

Decatur Police released the data in response to a records request from Decaturish. After some residents raised concerns about racial profiling by officers, the department began tracking info about the race of people that police officers stop.

Of the 2,149 people stopped by officers, 49 percent were African American and 8 percent were other races. According to the data, the majority of those stops – 86 percent – involved people who were not Decatur residents.

Decatur Deputy Police Chief Keith Lee provided additional information showing that minorities account for a higher percentage of stops involving non-residents. Officers stopped 1,858 non-residents during the three month period. Minorities accounted for 60 percent of those stops. The racial breakdown of non-residential stops was 731 nonresident whites, 971 nonresident African American 156 nonresidents of other races.

But whites made up the overwhelming majority – 71 percent – of the 277 stops involving Decatur residents.

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The 2010 census data for the city of Decatur shows that 75 percent of the population is white, 20 percent is African American and 5 percent is other races. The city also included census data showing the racial makeup of the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County, both of which have a majority non-white population.

“To me it looks like the stops pretty much mirror the demographics,” Deputy Chief Lee said. “Everything is within about four or five percentage points.”

Police officers this week completed a training session with the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute.

Lee said the training has been useful.

“Training is never bad,” Lee said. “We completed the training with the Anti-defamation league yesterday. It was very good training over three days. The entire city management team went (one day) and the police department went the other two days.”

Mayor Jim Baskett said via press release that, “The City Commission believes this and all the data collected by the Decatur Police Department are key to ensuring our city’s police department remains the responsible team of dedicated professionals that Decatur expects and deserves.”

Decaturish asked Lee if the city tracked the different kinds of stops officers make.

He said of the more than 2,000 stops …

– 1,335 were moving violations

– 348 were equipment violations

– 379 were license violations

– 83 were pedestrian stops

Lee did not have the racial breakdown for each category.

We’ve reached out to Don Denard with the Decatur Community Coalition to get his reaction. Denard’s experience with a Decatur Police officer last December kick-started the conversation about how the department treats minorities.

This story will be updated when he responds.

The city of Decatur provided this PDF which contains a summary of the data.

Decatur PD first quarter demographic charts_2014

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • M. W.

    I think that the stops have a lot to do with the fact that the county courthouse is in Decatur. We also have 3 main thoroughfares that lead to other parts of the city & OTP. The common denominator is there are many commuters that go through our little city.

    Plus, we locals all know how intense the DPD are with speed traps…

    • underscorex

      Then we should expect to see similar numbers out of Avondale Estates, no?

    • Deanne

      Can’t say as I’ve heard of any speed traps, only locations where speeding is a real issue. I agree that DPD makes traffic enforcement a major priority. That’s because us residents have clearly voiced that it’s what we want to see.

    • Steve

      “we locals all know how intense the DPD are with speed traps…”
      I’d be interested in some specifics, as that is not my observation. You only get cited if you break the law. Is 35 mph too slow for you? (BTW, under Ga law, you can only be cited if you are in excess of 10 mph over the limit).

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