A new state-wide report shows The Tyler Police Department in a negative light when it comes to racial profiling. It says blacks and latinos are more than three times more likely to be pulled over than whites in Tyler. That's the highest ratio reported in East Texas. The report was prepared on behalf of the Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, The ACLU of Texas, The NAACP of Texas, and the Texas LULAC. Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle feels that data is skewed, very vague, and was released before it was properly analyzed.
"Basically, it's all based on census data that was done in 2000 that is already old now that we're in 2004 and so the accuracy of that is very questionable," said Swindle.
Chief Swindle provided data he feels more accurately portrays the truth. He says the percentage of whites, blacks and hispanics receiving tickets falls right along the racial makeup of Tyler.
"The issue of racial profiling is very serious," said Swindle. "We take it very seriously here and actually we started in 2001, putting cameras in our patrol cars before the law even came out that said you had to do it. So, we have been one step ahead of the curve and are going to continue to be one step ahead of the curve and I guess that's where we get a little frustrated when you see all of the things we have done and then the numbers not reflecting the hard work that we have done."
Gus Ramirez is a member of the police departments minority advisory committee and feels it's important to look at the big picture.
"There's worse stuff going on right now then this supposedly profiling," said Ramirez, "so that's just one small element of what the whole criminal spectrum is in this country. (But, it's good to) stop and look at it and see if they've got a point to there."
Chief Swindle says the department received two racial profiling complaints in 2003 that were both unfounded. He reported no racial profiling complaints in 2002. It's also important to note that less than half of the state's law enforcement agencies were included in this report, including the Smith and Gregg County Sheriff's Departments.
Kevin Berns reporting email@example.com