St. Anthony police data show disproportionate black arrests

Records from the St. Anthony Police Department show a disproportionate pattern of arrests when compared by race. Race has been part of the narrative in the community outrage over the shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer on the night of July 6.  

The aftermath of the shooting was streamed on Facebook Live by his girlfriend who claimed that Castile, who was black, was reaching for his permit to carry registration and license when the officer shot him. Governor Mark Dayton has openly questioned whether Castile would have been shot if he were white.  

Fox 9 obtained the records in a data practices request and broke down the arrest and citation information from January 1, 2016 through July 3, 2016. The data shows a total of 992 arrests during that period of which 45 percent of which were white and 48 percent were black.

St. Anthony Police wrote 788 citations during the same time period where demographic breakdowns were recorded.  Of those citations, 74 percent were against whites, 18 percent for blacks.

The St. Anthony Police Department contracts police coverage with the neighboring communities of Falcon Heights and Lauderdale. When U.S. Census data is compared with the arrest records it shows that whites represent 85% of the population and blacks make up just 5% of the population of the three cities.

The data presents a cautionary tale and may not reflect a true picture for a number of reasons.  First, the data does not reflect the residency of any of those police encountered. Second, it is not known in the data set how many of those cited may also have been arrested, thereby co-mingling the data.  It’s also not known how many people of all races were encountered by police and not cited and not arrested.

Additionally, all three of these communities have major thoroughfares and Falcon Heights is home to the Minnesota State Fair grounds. It means that residents from all corners of the Twin Cities are passing through. The arrest and citation data reflects the people that police encounter, and not necessarily the people who live in the three communities.