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NYCLU report finds racial discrepancies in Irondequoit and Greece traffic stops

The report was released Thurday, August 15, 2019
The report was released Thurday, August 15, 2019

The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report Thursday showing racial disparities in Irondequoit and Greece policing. 

The report, based on information given by the police departments, says that in 2014, a third of all traffic stops in Greece involved black people, though only 6 percent of the town’s residents are black.

In Irondequoit, black people were involved in 38 percent of police stops in 2014, though only 9 percent of the town’s population is black.

NYCLU Genesee Valley Chapter director Iman Abid says the numbers are concerning.

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"For instance, in these towns themselves, they are predominantly white communities," she says. "So when we see, you know, the number of arrests or the number so stops against people who are of color, at the numbers that they're at, we’re concerned."

Irondequoit Police Chief Richard Tantalo says the numbers could be misleading.

"We border other communities, so even though it may reflect a specific population within the town of Irondequoit, we have mobility from a variety of neighborhoods from adjoining communities," he says.

Tantalo says the department's traffic stop policy has been enhanced since 2015 and that they will continue to review those policies.

Town of Greece, NY Police patch
Town of Greece, NY Police patch

Grece Police Chief Patrick Phelan issued a statement saying that the NYCLU's report is incomplete and inaccurate, "and in some instances completely false."

“It’s unfortunate that the NYCLU has taken this opportunity to spin partial and incomplete data in an effort to promote their agenda of driving divisive wedges between police agencies and their communities,” Phelan added.

Abid says that police departments need to make their policies stronger.

“When you don’t have a policy to hold your officers accountable, that’s going to cause problems. We’re going to permit officers to basically stop anyone for anything,” she says.

The report also states that the Irondequoit Police Department injured just over half of the people detained in forceful arrests between 2012 and 2015.  In Greece, 33 percent of forceful arrests resulted in injuries, the report says.

In response, Tantalo says that use of force incidents dropped 25 percent since 2015.

The findings are part of the NYCLU’s Behind the Badge Project, which analyses policing policies from different police departments across the state.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.