Originally published by the Inlander (http://www.inlander.com/spokane/the-race-card/Content?oid=2195467)
by Jacob Jones
In a new program to track police interactions and deter racial profiling, Spokane Police officers will start packing statistic forms while out patrolling their beats next year. Every time an officer questions a citizen or makes a traffic stop, the officer will have to fill out a short data form, noting the person’s race, location and other details.
With just a handful of questions, each individual form offers minimal insight, but combined with thousands of other data records on contacts across the city, the Spokane Police Department hopes to compile an unprecedented look into how its officers interact with citizens on a daily basis.
Cmdr. Brad Arleth, who has overseen the development of the program, says many metro-sized law enforcement agencies have logged similar race data for years. Amid ongoing national debate over the role of race in “stop and frisk,” gang enforcement and other targeted policing strategies, tracking who Spokane officers engage on the street can provide telling clues about how race may factor into local policing decisions.