New Bellevue Police Department data dashboard reveals racial disparities in arrests and use of force

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Newly available data breaks down important workforce, crime and arrest data. (Credit: Bellevue PD)

In an effort to increase transparency and accountability to the community, the Bellevue Police Department released a new data dashboard that includes details on crime statistics, arrests and police use of force. policemen. In a blog post last week, Chief Wendell Shirley shared, “We are pleased to share this police data with members of our community so they can be more aware of public safety issues…We are continually striving to earning public trust and this website is another way to connect with our community.

Community members interested in data such as racial breakdowns of uses of force or arrests by department would previously have had to rely on public records requests. With the new portal, where data is updated every 48 hours, residents can more easily track trends and uncover inequities in the app.

For example, the new portal reveals that over the past five years, Blacks accounted for 22% of arrests in the city, despite making up just 2.6% of Bellevue’s population since the 2020 census. This pattern persists whether the person arrested is a resident of Bellevue or another nearby town. In addition, a quarter (25%) of the department’s uses of force during the same period were against black people.

Between 2017 and 2022, black people were subject to the use of force by police at a rate nearly 10 times higher than you would expect given their share of the population. Similar disparities are not present for whites, who make up about half of Bellevue’s population. (Credit: Bellevue PD)

Importantly, since racial data is likely recorded as how the officer perceives a subject rather than being based on how that person identifies themselves, officers may fail to score correctly. a person as multiracial (a group that comprises 5.6% of the Bellevue population). However, even if this occurs at high rates, this alone cannot explain the disproportionate use of force by police experienced by black people in Bellevue.

Helpfully, the dashboard includes a live filter feature that allows users to further filter stats based on a subject’s race and age, crime type, and arrest outcome. For example, one can further sort the arrest data by age to find that black people make up 27% of arrests of people aged 18-24, but only 18% of those aged 45-54.

When a section of a chart is selected, the data in other charts will change to reflect the selection. (Credit: Bellevue PD)

The launch of the data dashboard is just part of a larger process that began shortly after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and the resulting nationwide protests. In response to calls for police reform, Mayor Lynne Robinson and City Council launched an independent review of the police department’s use of force policies, a process that resulted in an April 2021 report containing 47 recommendations. These included updates to policy language in manuals, revisions to taser deployment tactics, better data transparency, and more.

During the recent State of the City discussion, Deputy Mayor Nieuwenhuis affirmed that all 47 recommendations of the OIR report have been implemented. However, some suggested policy revisions were ultimately rejected by the Bellevue Police Department (BPD) or implemented with modification. For example, during a quarterly briefing to Council in January, Chief Shirley announced that the BPD would not be implementing Recommendation Number 34 to publish on the Department’s website the munitions authorized for use by its Disruption Unit. civilian or his SWAT team, saying such a procedure “could compromise [the department’s] ability to effectively and safely protect the community.

Additionally, recommendation number 23 to limit Taser applications to five seconds has been implemented, but with significant changes that weaken the effect of the policy change. The updated Taser policy reads: “In most situations, officers should apply the TASER for one standard cycle (5 seconds) and then assess the situation before applying subsequent cycles. However, there may be times when it is necessary and objectively reasonable (due to the level and immediacy of the threat) for the officer to apply the TASER longer than the standard cycle.” No additional context is provided on the criteria needed to reach the threshold where longer Taser deployments are permitted – this appears to be left to the officer’s discretion.

After the recommendations were released, the department pledged to present quarterly progress reports at city council meetings, but the last such meeting was in mid-January, nearly six months ago. . Instead of a meeting in April, the ministry released a progress report which revealed that implementation of the remaining recommendations was underway, but no completion date was provided. Chief Shirley previously noted that the department was looking to complete implementation of its chosen policies by June, but it was noted at the time that union negotiations could impact the timeline.

Chief Shirley has led the department and overseen its use of Force Review since former Chief Steve Mylett left to head the Akron Police Department last summer. This department is under scrutiny over the killing of Jayland Walker by officers and their handling of the subsequent protests. Walker, a black man, was shot dozens of times by eight officers, seven of whom were white.


Eastern Senior Reporter

Chris has a degree in environmental science from UW and moved to Bellevue in 2015. When he’s not busy being an urban fox on the internet, he works in the Eastside supporting pollution reduction efforts. greenhouse gas emissions and goes to city council meetings to denounce the hegemony of the automobile. Infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter at @Deutski1.

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