The number of African-American and Latino youth arrested by Pasadena Police has declined significantly in recent years. But that bit of good news may have slipped past you if you read a recent Star News article on juvenile arrests. By focusing on percentages instead of the actual numbers of arrests, the Star News gave the impression that young men of color are routinely preyed upon by racially-biased law enforcement. Fortunately, the numbers actually prove the opposite.
â€œMinorities Make Up 90 Percent of Youth Arrests in Pasadena.â€ That headline and the accompanying article in the October 12 Star News sent shockwaves of outrage throughout our community. Citing Pasadena Police Department statistics, the article pointed out that 41% of the juveniles arrested between 2008 and 2012 were African-American and 50% were Latino. A community leader quoted in the story said the figures were evidence that youth of color are â€œtargetedâ€ by Pasadena police. A local lawyer stated, â€œIf youâ€™re black, you will be arrested, if you are not, you wonâ€™t. Thatâ€™s their criteria.â€
Then, in the last few paragraphs of the article, the Star News finally got around to revealing the fact that minority youth arrests have actually been trending down. Pasadena Police records show that 159 black teens were arrested in 2008; that number tumbled to 88 in 2012. Arrests of Latino teens fell from 167 in 2008 to 75 in 2012.
If Pasadena cops were truly targeting our kids on the basis of race, then the arrests of African-American and Latino teens would not have dropped â€“ and dropped so drastically â€“ over the last few years.
The decline in black and Latino juvenile arrests is the real story in our city, and it suggests two trends about which we can all be pleased: (1) more of our kids are avoiding activities that lead to negative contact with law enforcement and (2) Pasadena Police officers are, for the most part, demonstrating fairness and professionalism when dealing with our young people.
Thanks for listening. Iâ€™m Cameron Turner and thatâ€™s my two cents.
Email Cameron Turner at TurnersTwoCents@yahoo.com.