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Portland, SoPo police departments under review for possible biases against people of color

The Portland and South Portland Police Department's are being studied for officer biases by examining arrests, summons, traffic citations and uses of force.

MAINE, USA — The Portland and South Portland police departments are looking into officers' treatment of any bias against people of color. 

The University of Southern Maine's Cutler Institute and Northeastern University's Institute on Race and Justice will be examining arrests, summonses, traffic citations, and uses of force that happened between 2018 and 2020.

“This will help us not only assess and understand our historical data, taking appropriate action, as necessary but will also place us on a trajectory for having a sustainable process to analyze our enforcement-related demographic data moving forward,” Portland Police Chief Frank Clark said in a statement.

The project will be carried out over the next year and will happen in three phases. The first phase will explore the quality and availability of existing data and work with key stakeholders. 

The second phase will develop and deploy a research methodology for understanding trends and demographic breakdowns and appropriate geographic designations for both cities with a focus on arrests and summonses. The demographics of interest will be race, ethnicity, age, gender, geography (location of arrest or crime report and residency of the arrestee) as well as the available demographics of the arresting officer. With the support of the Roux Institute, the research team will complete the remaining analysis accordingly, including traffic citations and uses of force.

In the last phase, the research team will transition the work over to the Portland Police and South Portland Police and build the capacity of both departments to conduct the analysis going forward. This phase will primarily be supported by the Roux Institute and consist of documentation, developing visuals and templates and providing training and assistance to both departments.

This project will be funded by the two cities and Northeastern University's Roux Institute.