Statistics drive commissioners to mull traffic-stop records
By Lora-Marie Bernard
A RACIAL profiling report shows that the county’s sheriff’s deputies are several times more likely to stop a white driver than one from a minority group.
But county sheriff Henry Trochesset says that’s because large swathes of the county contain far more white people among their population than Native Indians, African-Americans or Hispanics.
And the report does not break down the racial profiles of the drivers subjected to a search or arrest during traffic stops.
County commissioner Joe Giusti cited the report, which records statistics for last year, during a commissioners’ court meeting to discuss and applaud the sheriff’s deputies for using proper traffic-stop techniques when on patrol.
Trochesset said the results have much to do with the county’s residential population.
“I think the makeup of the unincorporated parts of the county is why the numbers look like they do”, he said.
Giusti pulled the annual report from the commissioners’ February 14 meeting consent agenda in order to applaud Trochesset and his deputies.
“I want to commend the sheriff and have him say a few words if he would”, Giusti said, adding: “Looks like Galveston County sheriff’s department has done a heck of a job of not profiling people”.
He said he wanted Trochesset to discuss the results because, as reported in The Post on February 22, the sheriff’s department had requested to enter into a new partnership with ICE, the US immigration and customs enforcement agency.
The ICE partnership, if begun, would allow deputies to identify suspected illegal aliens and subject them to extensive background vetting after they have been booked into the county jail. On February 14, the county commissioners approved the first step in that process and allowed ICE to begin an assessment of the sheriff’s department.
Racial profiling reports document the number of minorities and whites who are stopped for traffic violations in any given year.
According to the 2016 report, deputies stopped 185 drivers from racial minorities, including 102 African-Americans, 20 Asians, 62 Latinos and one Native Indian, while 1,144 white drivers were stopped.
The stops, the report states, resulted in a total of 157 searches, of which 56 were conducted without consent, and 102 arrests. It does not contain any figures for the racial makeup of the searches and arrests.
However, commissioner Stephen Holmes said he wanted to know the racial breakdown of the searches and arrests, telling Trochesset that, if he had that information, he’d like to see it.
Trochesset said he would research whether information is available.
In a letter to the commissioners, the sheriff said he had received no complaints for racial profiling during 2016.
“Since this type of reporting began nearly 16 years ago, this agency has never received any valid complaint or discovered any indications of racial profiling, a fact that speaks volumes of the high level of professionalism displayed by the men and women of the Galveston County sheriff’s office,” he wrote.