PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Six years of records obtained from Phoenix Police show African Americans are involved in a disproportionately high number of use of force incidents. Those are situations where police officers used hands, fists, choke holds or weapons during an encounter.

Between 2010 and 2015, subjects categorized as white were involved in 3,023 use of force incidents with Phoenix Police officers. Subjects categorized as Hispanic accounted for 3,079 such incidents. And subjects categorized as black accounted for 1,518 such incidents.

But when you compare those figures to the proportion of the city's population each of those racial groups comprise, the picture looks different.

Blacks made up less than 7% of the population during that time frame, yet accounted for 18% of the use of force cases. Meantime, whites made up 43% of Phoenix's population, yet accounted for just 36% of the use of force incidents. And Hispanics made up less than 43% of the population and were involved in 37% of the incidents.

The latest data shows the situation is getting worse for African Americans. Last year, the percentage of violent encounters with Phoenix Police they were involved in grew to 20%.

"We're not surprised by the data. But it validates. It numerically validates everything that we've been saying as a problem, as being a problem with policing here in the Valley," said Roy Tatem, the president of East Valley NAACP.

Tatem says he believes change is taking place as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. But he says policy change is easier to accomplish than culture change.

"First and foremost, we need to admit there's a problem with racism, a systemic racism as it relates to policing," said Tatem.

Phoenix Police officers responded to more than 600,000 calls for service last year.

"We don’t take age, sex, race, or any other demographic into account when a 911 call is placed and our officers are dispatched to serve our community," said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune of the Phoenix Police Department.

She argues that any comparison between race and policing should take into account calls for service, rather than any one racial group's proportion of the city's population.

According to data provided by Phoenix Police, people categorized as black were involved in 20% of the total crime calls last year, and nearly 28% of violent crime calls.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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