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FCPD Arrest Data Show Evidence of Racial Disparities

Recent arrest data released by the Fairfax County Police Department shows more evidence of disproportionate policing in the county.

The data indicate that Black individuals made up roughly 39 percent of all arrests last year. Black residents account for 9.7 percent of the total population.

FCPD officers arrested 34,330 people in 2019, 57 percent of which were white. White residents make up roughly 61 percent of the total population.

But more information recently provided on the residence of offenders sheds additional light on racial disparities.

Most arrests of Black individuals — nearly 55 percent — were of people outside Fairfax County. But even Black residents who live in the county were arrested at higher rates (29 percent) relative to their population makeup in the county. In Virginia, Black individuals account for nearly 20 percent of the population. 

The Fairfax NAACP says the latest data provide further evidence of disproportionate policing of Blacks in Fairfax County.

We have significant concerns regarding how the data are being collected and released to the public. But what we know for now is that after “use of force” and other policies have been revised and training has purportedly been improved, the data FCPD has released consistently reveal significant problems with disproportionate policing of people of color. Not only is this unacceptable, but it further demonstrates the urgency of the Fairfax County NAACP’s demand that all relevant data concerning FCPD officers’ interactions with citizens – which was promised in 2015 and is long overdue – must be released,” said Luke Levasseur, the chapter’s criminal justice chair.

Most arrests (66 percent) of white people were of county residents.  Traffic stop data, on the other hand, show minimal disparities.

The police department released its data following calls for police reform and nationwide protests over the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. FCPD says it is offering more information in an effort to maintain its commitment of transparency. The department held a community town hall about policing issues with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Nearly 70 percent of all traffic citations were given to white people, while 18 percent were given to Black individuals. A detailed breakdown of traffic stop data is available online.

Last month, FCPD released additional data on use of force incidents. Black residents were involved in 46 percent of all use-of-force incidents, even though they make up less than 10 percent of the county’s total population.

Researchers at University of Texas at San Antonio are studying the department’s culture after a study released in 2017 found that roughly 40 percent of all use-of-force incidents involve a Black individual.

Levasseur says the county needs to do more to improve its policing.

“Fairfax County residents deserve policing that does not disproportionality harm Black people, and we believe that the only way that can be achieved is complete transparency with respect to how the county’s different communities are being policed.”

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