The Washington State University Police Department is promising to address racial bias in campus policing in response to a report that says police officers arrest a disproportionate number of Black residents.
The university announced Thursday that WSU Police Department Chief Bill Gardner requested the WSU Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation analyze three years of policing data shortly after an Aug. 29 article in the Daily Evergreen highlighted the racial disparity based on one year’s worth of data.
The CRCI’s report found that Black people are more likely to be arrested by a WSU officer than other races, including about four times the rate of white people. Black people made up nearly 11 percent of the 862 arrests between January 2016 and September 2019, the report says. Black residents account for less than 3 percent of the Pullman population.
Phil Weiler, WSU’s vice president for marketing and communication, told the Daily News that “Gardner reviewed each individual case (in the report) to see if there were any patterns or other similarities that could be determined. This move was part of his approach to better understand what may account for the disparity in the percentage of stops involving Black members of our community.”
Weiler said that in the data, the term “arrests” also includes citations against people.
A community workgroup called the Police Advisory Board will help the WSU Police Department create a Civil Rights Action Plan by Dec. 18, 2020. That plan will include goals for training officers about bias and race, and providing better ways for people to report potential bias from police officers.
The Police Advisory Board will have seats for representatives from student, faculty and staff organizations, including the Black Student Union and the Black Faculty and Staff Association, among others.
The Advisory Board will meet for two hours every other month throughout the academic year, starting in September.
The CRCI report can be found at police.wsu.edu/crci-report/.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at email@example.com.