BRYAN, Texas — Protesters lined the streets of Texas Avenue Saturday in front of the Bryan Police Department. Black Lives Matter BCS and members of the Neal Park Potluck organized the protest to shine a light on what they said is racism within the Bryan Police Department.
The Black in Bryan 17/24/43 protest was organized to highlight two purposes, according to information released about the protest Friday. The group wanted to mark the 10-year anniversary of the shooting of Johnnie Harris Jr. Harris, who is a Black man, was running from police when he was shot by an on-duty officer. He was not armed and the officer did not face charges in the case.
The group said their second purpose is to highlight what they said is racism within the department, specifically during traffic stops.
Organizers said the numbers in their protest name have a significant meaning. They said the 17/24/43 number set represents 17% of the population of Bryan makes up 24% of the traffic stops by the Bryan Police Department and 43% of the searches during traffic stops by officers. They said Bryan officers search Black people more than white people.
While that statistic in 2020 is accurate, an independent analysis done within the Bryan Police Department showed the agency to be compliant with the Texas Racial Profiling Law. The Bryan Police Department has hired racial profiling expert Dr. Alex del Carmen over the past 12 years to analyze its department, specifically traffic stop data.
Dr. del Carmen is an Associate Dean and Professor of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts in the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies for Tarleton State University. He is considered an authority on race and crime with emphasis on racial profiling within law enforcement agencies. He also currently serves as a Special Master for the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico and is director of the Institute for Predictive Analytics in Criminal Justice.
According to this analysis, during the 2009 Texas Legislative session, the Racial Profiling Law was modified and in 2017, the Sandra Bland Act was signed into law. It requires any agency that appoints or employs peace officers to offer a training program on civil rights, racial sensitivity and cultural diversity, among other topics.
According to the report, all Bryan police officers have received training on the Texas Racial Profiling Law and basic training on racial profiling. The report summary stated the Bryan Police Department policies prohibit racial profiling.
According to the numbers released in the report from 2020, there were 11,075 traffic stops by Bryan police officers. Within these stops, 37% were white, 34% were Hispanic and 27% were Black.
Within these stops, there were 886 searches done. Out of those searches, 400 were Black, 259 were Hispanic, and 225 were white. An interesting statistic to point out in the analysis is out of those searches of Black people, 65% were based on probable cause and 22% were consent searches. For Hispanics, 65% were based on probable cause and 25% were consent searches. For whites, 57% were based on probable cause and 35% were based on consent searches.
Dr. del Carmen, who studied the data on Bryan PD's traffic stops, stated in a report given to the Bryan City Council in February of 2021, that the department is in full compliance with the state law and has "the processes in place to discourage racial profiling."
"The report demonstrates that the police department has incorporated a comprehensive racial profiling policy, currently offers information to the public on how to file a compliment or complaint, commissions quarterly data audits in order to ensure validity and reliability, collects and commissions the analysis of tier 2 data, and ensures that the practice of racial profiling is not tolerated,” del Carmen's report stated.
The Bryan Police Department said its officers received additional Implicit Bias training from del Carmen in 2020. The report also stated that from January 1 2020 through December 31, 2020, the Bryan Police Department has not received any formal complaints for racial profiling. During this time period, not one member of its police force has received a formal complaint for racial profiling.
In a Facebook post by Dan Kiniry, one of Saturday's protest organizers, he said he has looked at the statistics in del Carmen's report but said the report does not explain why the number of searches concerning Black people is higher than white people. "They don’t find drugs in these searches of Black people more than they do for White people, they’re just far far more likely to search Black people, so far more Black people go to jail and prison," his Facebook post stated.
The report laid out what was found during the searches. Out of the 400 searches of Black people during Bryan PD traffic stops in 2020, 215 searches resulted in finding contraband: 170 instances of drugs, four instances of weapons and 23 instances of alcohol. Out of the 225 searches of white people during Bryan PD traffic stops in 2020, 140 searches resulted in finding contraband: 115 instances of drugs, one instance of weapons and 10 instances of alcohol.
Organizers said they do not want to "condemn" the police department. They want the community to recognize what they say is a race problem within the department.