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Police Chief regarding Ticketing Data
City of Carmel Police Department
Three Civic Square
Carmel, IN 46032
Date: December 3, 2019
Contact: Lt. James Semester, (317) 571-2500
Statement from Carmel Police Chief Jim Barlow
Regarding Ticketing Percentages
On November 18, 2019 a local news station ran a story titled “Carmel police ticket black drivers at higher rate, data shows.” This news story paints an inaccurate, incomplete, and frankly unfair picture of how the Carmel Police Department treats drivers. We are committed to treating everyone with respect and dignity. The Carmel Police Department would like to address several areas of the news story that we believe are incomplete or inaccurate. The news story failed to account for non-discretionary offenses, people cited for multiple violations in an enforcement event, and the traveling population. The story only included Indiana Code violations, failing to account for city ordinance violations.
After the news story aired, the Carmel Police Department requested the data and information about the statistical analysis processes used by the reporter. The Department only received the raw data used for the news story. Information about statistical analysis processes and source contact information were not shared.
The conclusions in the story were derived from data that failed to account for non-discretionary offenses. Non-discretionary offenses are severe violations of law where an officer would be expected to make an arrest or issue a ticket. Non-discretionary offenses include felonies, misdemeanors, and driving while suspended offenses. Non-discretionary offenses that were not removed from the data used for the story include alcohol, drug, and driver’s license offenses. Non-discretionary offenses are not what most people consider a traffic ticket.
Officers are allowed latitude when making the decision to issue tickets for minor offenses including, but not limited to, speeding, stop sign, and equipment violations. These types of offenses are considered discretionary offenses. In 2018, 4,737 individuals were issued tickets for discretionary offenses by the Carmel Police Department. Of those individuals, 3,428 were white (72.4%), 967 were African American (20.4%), and 342 were listed as other race (7.2%).
The conclusions failed to account for people who were cited for multiple violations during a single enforcement event. For example, if an officer cited a driver for driving while suspended and speeding during a single enforcement event, each violation was counted as a separate person.
The data used for the story included only violations of Indiana Code. The data did not include city ordinance violations, which make up a significant portion of enforcement events. Many city ordinance violations are traffic related and are considered discretionary. In 2018, 15.3% of all tickets written were for violations of city ordinance.
Population demographic data from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) by the United States Census Bureau differs drastically from data presented by the reporter during the news story. The ACS showed that Carmel residents that reported their race alone or in combination with “Black or African American” was 5.3% of the total population. Further, the daytime working “Black or African American” population of Carmel was 11.7%. The ACS only accounts for resident and daytime working populations. Additionally, the news story failed to consider any data regarding visitors and travelers. Carmel has multiple major travel corridors, including I-465, US 31, US 421, and Keystone Parkway. These roadways accommodate tens of thousands of vehicles daily. Visitors may go to one of the many medical, office, hospitality, or retail destinations throughout the city. To accurately characterize a traveling population, a traffic study would be necessary.
The Carmel Police Department takes numerous measures to be as transparent as possible. The Department is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Part of that transparency is that we are one of few agencies in Central Indiana that document every traffic stop whether it results in a citation or warning. This documentation includes race, gender, and age. The Department has used in-car video cameras for more than 20 years. Also, on March 1, 2019 officers began wearing body-worn cameras that are integrated with the in-car cameras, but can also be used independently from the in-car camera system if the officer is away from their vehicle. Video recordings are randomly reviewed by supervisors as part of their ongoing evaluations of officers’ activities. The Department has a policy that prohibits biased-based policing and discriminatory practices. Complaints regarding bias-based policing or discriminatory practice are reviewed by the Deputy Chief of Staff.
The Carmel Police Department is committed to excellence in everything we do. We perform our sworn duties ethically, maintaining respect for individual rights, human dignity, cultural diversity, and community values. We will continue to implement and follow policies related to best practices in the field of law enforcement, provide the best training possible, and utilize technology to increase transparency and efficiency.
The Carmel Police Department would like to thank its dedicated officers and support staff for the important work that they do every day.
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