ST. ANTHONY, Minn. (KMSP) - St. Anthony Village is addressing a number of questions regarding data released by the city as we await the results of the investigation into the police shooting of Philando Castile.
Why did one officer appear to issue so many traffic citations? “Each of our officers are given the latitude and discretion to provide service in a number of different ways. The specific officer chose to spend his additional time focusing on traffic enforcement to slow traffic in the community in an effort to reduce crashes.”
Why isn’t race documented in traffic stop data? “For consistency, the city of St. Anthony mandates that race be recorded for all arrests, misdemeanor, felony and traffic, though not for parking tickets or written warnings. This is consistent with court requirements and a typical best practice in Minnesota.”
Why is Larpenteur Avenue so heavily patrolled? “Two of the main reasons for this heavy patrol are that this stretch of road has a substantial number of accidents, and that area residents often raise concerns related to speeding and traffic issues.”
On July 6, 2016, St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights. In her Facebook Live video of the July 6 incident, Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, says they were pulled over for a broken tail light. She says Castile let the officer know he had a permit to carry a firearm, and that he was reaching for his ID and wallet when he was shot by Officer Yanez.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is still investigating the shooting. Once complete, the case will be sent to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for consideration of charges. Choi may forward the case to a grand jury, or he could decide to make a charging decision himself.
As the investigation continues, St. Anthony Village has been releasing public data requested by Fox 9 and other media. IN-DEPTH - St. Anthony police data show disproportionate black arrests
Timeline of Philando Castile shooting
JULY 7, 10 AM - Governor: 'Justice will be served in Minnesota'
JULY 7, 9:50 PM - Police officers identified in fatal shooting of Philando Castile
JULY 8, 10:30 AM - Prosecutor considering grand jury in Philando Castile shooting
JULY 9, 8 PM - Protest shuts down Interstate 94 in St. Paul
JULY 26-27 - 70 protesters arrested at Governor's Residence
JULY 27 - Falcon Heights hosts listening session
Aug. 8 statement from St. Anthony Village
As we all work together as a community to learn more about what has happened and look at how we move forward together, it is our commitment to continue to share information and ideas. As we shared at the July City Council meeting, St. Anthony is moving forward to create an ongoing community engagement task force for all three communities served by our police department. This will bring together ideas from communities like Maplewood, as well as best practices and ideas from around the country. Our goal is to not only have conversations, but to create an action plan. We will share more as this moves forward. Please look for future meetings and ways to be part of this process.
As we wait for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to finish the investigation, the city continues to share information about our department and the work we do. Much of this is happening through detailed public information requests from the media that we working extremely hard to fulfill in a very timely manner. In addition to sharing records, statistics and other data, we also think it important to see the broader perspective.
The recent information that has been shared focuses on our officers and what the data from arrests, citations, and other incidents means. Specifically, there have been broader questions about how traffic citations are written and about patrols on Larpenteur Avenue West.
Many citizens and media outlets have inquired about the fact that one officer appeared to have issued traffic citations at a rate that is higher than many of our other officers. Each of our officers are given the latitude and discretion to provide service in a number of different ways. The specific officer chose to spend his additional time focusing on traffic enforcement to slow traffic in the community in an effort to reduce crashes. His focus on traffic presence also allowed for other officers to focus on other important aspects of policing that interested them. In addition to traffic enforcement being an interest of his, that officer worked predominately during the day when traffic volumes are higher. This lead to the officer to write more citations, due to the higher number of motorists violating traffic code during the hours he typically worked.
Questions have also been raised about how the race of a motorist is documented on citations, and why this data has not been made public. Officers are instructed not to ask a motorist for their race, but are instructed to use their best judgment. For consistency, the city of St. Anthony mandates that race be recorded for all arrests, misdemeanor, felony and traffic, though not for parking tickets or written warnings. This is consistent with court requirements and a typical best practice in Minnesota. Regarding data, based on the fact there is no available data related to the demographics of all of the motorists who travel through our communities on a regular basis – considering there are a significant number of people moving through these communities who are not residents – it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach any data-supported demographic conclusions related to arrests and citations.
Many of the questions being asked about Larpenteur Avenue are regarding the heavy patrolling that is often noticed, and the high volume of citations given on this street. There are a number of reasons that this stretch of road is patrolled more heavily than other, similar, stretches of road in our community. Two of the main reasons for this heavy patrol are that this stretch of road has a substantial number of accidents, and that area residents often raise concerns related to speeding and traffic issues. As in other situations where there are increased levels of law enforcement activity to respond to community concerns, there is also often a corresponding increase in the level of arrests and citations. Our police department responds to concerns like this and as a result, our officers have increased patrols in these areas, which leads to more active enforcement.
Our city leadership and police department is committed to serving the three communities and to do the work people want to make our community a safe place to live and work. We are a community of laws, and we need to support the people who enforce those laws and are charged with keeping the public safe. We encourage every individual to contact us with any ideas, concerns, or questions, and we will respond to the extent that the law and progress on the investigation allow.
We know this continues to be a challenging, yet important time for all of us. Everyone who is part of the City of St. Anthony is working extremely hard to not only deal with these tragic circumstances, but to continue to serve this amazing community.