The number of African-American and Latino youth arrested in Pasadena has declined significantly in recent years. Pasadena Police Department 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. That's really good news! But those encouraging facts might have slipped past you if you read another Pasadena newspaper's recent article on juvenile arrests.
With the alarmist title "Minorities Make up 90 Percent of Youth Arrests in Pasadena," the October 12 "Star News" pointed out that 41% of the juveniles arrested between 2008 and 2012 were African-American and 50% were Latino. The article then quoted local activists who blamed racially-biased policing for the high percentages of black and Latino youth taken into custody. One community leader said the figures were evidence that kids of color are "targeted" by Pasadena police. A local lawyer stated, "If you're black, you will be arrested, if you are not, you won't. That's their criteria."
Sadly, the "Star News" writer waited until almost the end of the story to mention that the number of black and Latino juveniles arrested had actually gone down. Apparently, the community activists interviewed for the article were not asked to respond to those numbers.
By focusing on the percentage of minority youth arrested rather than the actual number of arrests, the "Star News" painted a false picture of a heavy-handed police force preying upon African-American and Latino teens. But the statistics quoted by the "Star News" actually prove otherwise. If racial profiling defined the culture of the Pasadena Police Department, if Pasadena cops were truly targeting our kids, then the arrests of minority youth would not have dropped – and dropped so drastically – over the last few years.
The decline in arrests of black and Latino youth suggest 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, in general, are demonstrating fairness and professionalism when dealing with our young people.
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.