Metro Transit study shows disparities in treatment of people of color

- Metro Transit is making changes in policing after a new report revealed differences in the treatment of people of color by Metro Transit Police Department.

The data requested by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union shows that while serious crimes are enforced consistently across racial lines, there are big differences when it comes to enforcement of less serious crimes, especially first time fare evasion, particularly among Native American and African American riders.

According to the data, Native Americans were 152 percent more likely to be cited rather than warned for first time fare evasion when compared with white adults, while black adults were 26 percent more likely to be cited rather than warned for first time fare evasion when compared with white adults.

Among all incidents, Native American adults were 93 percent more likely to be arrested and 55 percent more likely to be cited rather than warned compared to white adults, while black adults were 38 percent more likely to be arrested and 16 percent more likely to be cited rather than warned compared to white adults.

"This study tells me that we have a problem," Metro Transit police chief John Harrington said. "We are taking immediate action to address it. I want our communities to understand that I know our officers are at their best when they act as guardians for all of our riders."

Metro Transit is taking several steps to address these disparities. Chief Harrington has directed officers to issue warning to all people for their first encounter with police for fare evasion.

Metro Transit is also asking the Council on Crime and Justice to do a comprehensive examination of the department's policies and procedures. Metro Transit is also planning a series of community meetings where citizens and community leaders can share their experiences and offer suggestions for immediate changes.

Read the full report here.

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