Mythical towns with below average black arrests in a hoax
When it comes to racially lopsided arrests, the most remarkable thing about Ferguson, Mo., might be just how ordinary it is.
Police in Ferguson — which erupted into days of racially charged unrest after a white officer killed an unarmed black teen — arrest black people at a rate nearly three times higher than people of other races.
At least 1,581 other police departments across the USA arrest black people at rates even more skewed than in Ferguson, a USA TODAY analysis of arrest records shows. That includes departments in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit.
Those disparities are easier to measure than they are to explain.
Arrest rates are lopsided almost everywhere. Only 173 of the 3,538 police departments USA TODAY examined arrested black people at a rate equal to or lower than other racial groups.
So are there really 173 shiny examples of police departments that don’t somehow, someway force black people to commit crimes?
No it’s a hoax.
I was, of course, struck by there being 173 police departments where there was no disparity.
What are these places?
USA Today doesn’t provide the data in tabular form. You have to look at a hard-t0-manipulate map for each state.
I checked out my guess of Minot, North Dakota, which is near an Air Force base. But the black arrest rate is a little over 4 times the non-black rate there.
So I looked at the Southern half of California. There are four places within about 150 miles of Los Angeles that have no disparity in arrest rates:
Chino, Norco, Tehachapi, and Delano.
What else do they have in common?
Chino is home to the California Institution for Men, which gets only 2 out of 5 stars from its Yelp reviewers: e.g., “It’s prison…..nuff said….”
Norco is home to the California Rehabilitation Center.
Tehachapi’s best known accommodations were recently declared to be “the worst of any SHU, prison or jail I have seen in 23 years.”
And Delano is home to the Kern Valley State Prison.
These are small towns with few actual black residents that have prisons. The prison population is counted as “residents.” Since they are already in prison, they are not being arrested. Thus a statistical illusion is created that black “residents” are being arrested at a low rate.
We can see two trends on the map. Rural black towns with an mostly black administration, in which black offenders are simply not being arrested for anything but extremely serious felonies. Mostly white rural areas with a giant prison.