The Waxahachie Police Department recently released its 2018 racial profiling report that shows traffic stops are mostly proportionate to the city's population demographics.
The report was released publicly at the Waxahachie City Council meeting Monday at the City Hall chambers. Since the state does not provide any standards by which to compare data, Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby stated that the department collected data for their report through the municipal court’s software system.
“We also have to capture data on traffic stops that result in an arrest,” Goolsby stated. “Unless a citation is issued, that information does not go to the municipal court. We capture that data in-house and combine the data from the two sources.”
The report pulls from the latest census data that was collected in 2010. According to that census, over 149,610 people reside within Ellis County, while an estimated 29,621 people live in Waxahachie. Of those city demographics for Waxahachie, 75 percent — or 22,381 people — identified as Caucasian, while 23.2 percent, or 6,780 identified as Hispanic and 12.9 percent, or 3,819 identified as Black.
According to the report, 12,101 traffic stops were conducted during 2018. It also notes that 7,751 of those traffics stops were to cars driven by Caucasian drivers, which is roughly 64 percent.
The report states that the percentages of individuals stopped mostly reflect the proportions of the Waxahachie population.
There were, however, two demographics in the report where the percentage of those stopped exceeded the Waxahachie population percentage — Black and Asian. According to the report, 2,277 Black and 89 Asian drivers were stopped in 2018, which comprised 19 and one percent fo all traffic stops, respectively.
According to the 2010 census, 12.9 percent of residents registered as Black, while 0.5 identified as Asian.
However, Goolsby stated that doesn’t necessarily mean those stopped were residents of Waxahachie or Ellis County. He remarked that many people travel through Waxahachie that live outside of the city, and officers will stop anyone who may be in found in a violation of the law.
“We have many visitors from outside the city, and we have a tremendous amount of traffic just traveling through the city on major thoroughfares,” Goolsby remarked. “I think that the violators from outside the city and county can account for disparities between residency percentages and violator percentages.”
The report also details that the race or ethnicity of the driver was not known before 11,795 of the more than 12,000 traffic stops.
Officers conducted 979 vehicle searches during those stops, and 783 of the searches discovered contraband in the vehicles.
The report notes the traffic stops resulted in 981 arrests.
The report also shows an increase in traffic contacts between 2017 and 2018 across all demographics, jumping from 8,114 traffic stops in 2017 to 12,101 last year.
Goolsby expressed that statistics alone will never reveal whether police officers engage in racial profiling or not. He expressed that the department makes every effort to ensure that officers are trained and held to the highest standards of conduct.
“In the end, a police department has to rely on the ethics of its officers and the values instilled within the organization,” he stated.