COLLEGE STATION — Tarleton State University’s Dr. Alex del Carmen will lead scholars and academicians from across The Texas A&M University System to analyze data racial profiling reported by law enforcement agencies.
It will be the first comprehensive study of traffic stop data from Texas law enforcement in accordance with the Sandra Bland Act. Sandra Bland was a 28-year old Prairie View A&M alumna who died in the Waller County Jail in 2015. Her arrest followed a lengthy argument between her and the Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested her. Video of her arrest was documented by the officer’s dashboard camera.
“Impartial research such as this can inform public policy with facts and that benefits us all,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “The Texas A&M University System is duty bound to do no less.”
The A&M System group studying the data consists of teams emphasizing research, teaching, instruction and service. Del Carmen will lead the research team.
Dr. del Carmen is a leading national expert on racial profiling in policing and with experience in police reform cases. His team will examine the annual racial profiling data submitted by Texas law enforcement agencies during the past year.
“The reputation of Dr. del Carmen and Tarleton’s criminology and criminal justice programs are widely known,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “The choice to have him lead this high-profile research project on a socially significant topic proves that.”
Dr. del Carmen, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts’ School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies, served as a federal monitor in two of the largest and most significant police reform cases in U.S. history.
He recently completed his latest book, “Racial Profiling in Policing: Beyond the Basics.”
“Our research group will focus on identifying patterns and practices related to police motor vehicle stops, searches and arrests,” he said. “Now, more than ever, the analysis of police data specific to minorities is crucial to the better understanding and reconciliation of our communities.”
Questions to be raised include whether the officer involved issued a verbal or written warning or a citation as a result of the stop and whether the officer used force that resulted in bodily injury.
This information supplements other data — the driver’s race, whether a search was conducted, and if the officer knew the driver’s race before pulling him or her over — in accordance with the law.
The Sandra Bland Act took effect in 2017 and mandates that county jails divert people with mental health and substance abuse issues toward treatment, makes it easier for defendants to receive a personal bond if they have a mental illness or intellectual disability and requires that independent law enforcement agencies investigate jail deaths.