File photo.

File photo.

Auditor’s report finds racial disparities in King County Sheriff’s Office performance

BIPOC individuals are arrested and subjected to police use of force disproportionately, report finds

The King County Auditor’s Office released an audit on June 14 that found racial disparities in King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) interactions on calls for service.

In particular, deputies were more likely to have used force against Black and Hispanic people, and white deputies used force more often than Black or Asian deputies, according to the report.

Data from case files and use of force records indicate some racial groups experienced greater numbers of uses of force than others and were arrested more often than expected, given their makeup of the county population.

Officers used force against Black people and people of Hispanic origin more often than other races, according to the report’s findings. Also, force was used against white people less often.

The Sheriff’s Office arrested Black people over 350% more than would be expected, given their proportion of the population. This disparity was not localized to any one KCSO jurisdiction, and it was spread throughout the majority of the county, according to the report.

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and people of Hispanic origin were also arrested at rates higher than their proportions of the population, but not nearly as high as the rate for Black people.

Asian people and white people were arrested at lower rates than their proportional population in the region.

Some racial groups of officers also used force more often than others, the report stated. As a group, white officers appear to have used force twice as often as Black or Asian officers.

Findings also indicated that white officers used force against Black people more often than other officers, and against Asian and people of Hispanic origin less often.

Auditors did not assess the appropriateness of any specific arrest or use of force.

According to the auditors, more data and analysis are needed to explore the scope and causes of these disparities. The auditors noted barriers to data collection, such as the fact that the Sheriff’s Office has little information on the race of the people it interacts with.

Most of the auditors’ recommendations urge the department to have better data collection in order for causes of disparities to be identified.


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