Police Line

Arrests Down But Racial Disparity Remains

New Analysis of California Trends

KCBS Radio Morning News
December 04, 2018 - 7:15 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- A first-of-its-kind analysis of arrest statistics in California shows arrest rates have dropped dramatically over the last 30 years.

But the report from the Public Policy Institute of California also found African Americans are substantially overrepresented in arrest statistics. They make up 5.7 percent of California's population, yet accounted for 16.3 percent of arrests in 2016. Latinos represented 39 percent of the population and 41 percent of arrests; whites38.1 percent of the population and 36 percent of arrests.

The PPIC study used data reported monthly by local law enforcement agencies to the California Department of Justice.

It found the arrest rate in the state has declined by 58 percent from its peak in 1989."About three-fourths of this decline is due to sharp drops in misdemeanor arrests, especially for traffic and alcohol-related offenses," wrote the PPIC study authors. Felony arrest rates for property and drug offenses also fell substantially.

The report also spotlighted a wide disparity between arrest rates in California's urban areas and its rural counties. The five counties with the highest arrest rates— including both felonies and misdemeanors—are all rural and less populous: Lake, Siskiyou, Shasta , Trinity, and Butte.