Statement from the Rutland City Police Department - June 6, 2013
The following statement was issued on June 6, 2013 by the Office of the Chief of Police:
In response to the report entitled Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests released by the Vermont Chapter of the ACLU the Rutland City Police Department (RCPD) has requested a professional independent review of the data in the report. The report states that in Rutland County there is a 16.8 times more likely chance that African-Americans will be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites. That number is disturbing.
After consulting with Mayor Chris Louras and Police Commission Chairman Larry Jensen, Chief James Baker contacted Dr. Max Schlueter, the Director of the Vermont Center for Justice Research. Dr. Schlueter has been requested to review the report and do a trend analysis of the data in the report as it applies to Rutland City. It is important to note that the report refers to Rutland County, not Rutland City. It is important to better understand what this reports means to the operations of the RCPD.
It has been a focus of the RCPD for a period of time to better understand implicit bias and how that effects law enforcement interactions. To that end the RCPD has been working on a continuing basis with Mr. Curtis Reed, Executive Director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, to develop training strategies that focus on bias free policing. After the analysis of the data Executive Director Reed will be engaged in helping better understand what the data means.
The RCPD is committed to our stated vision of:
As a leader in law enforcement, the Rutland City Police Department will work collaboratively to build a bias-free community where everyone feels safe and secure.
PREPARED BY: Chief James W. Baker
ACLU Publishes "The War on Marijuana in Black & White"
Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union published a report, which examined marijuana possession arrest rates by race for all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and their respective counties from 2001 to 2010. The report relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census’ annual county population estimates to document arrest rates by race per 100,000 for marijuana possession.
The report finds that between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States, 88% of which were for possession. Marijuana arrests have increased between 2001 and 2010 and now account for over half (52%) of all drug arrests in the United States, and marijuana possession arrests account for nearly half (46%) of all drug arrests. In 2010, there was one marijuana arrest every 37 seconds, and states spent combined over $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws.
The report also finds that, on average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.
Curtiss Reed, Executive Director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity noted in a quote to the Associated Press, "That disparities exist is old news. The ACLU report provides valuable baseline data upon which the entire Vermont criminal justice system, legislative bodies, communities and social justice advocates should seek to improve. Let not the magnitude of the disparity or statistical method employed obfuscate the real work of holding ourselves accountable for meaningful, measurable progress to eliminate the disparity by 2020.”
The report concludes that the War on Marijuana, like the larger War on Drugs of which it is a part, is a failure.
Download the full report by clicking here.
2nd Annual Vermont Vision Conference Announced
The 2nd Annual Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Conference will be held November 7 thru 8, 2013 at the Grand Summit Hotel of the Mount Snow Resort in Dover, Vermont.
The organizing committee has begun the planning for what will be another thought provoking and productive conference. (View one participant's reaction to the 2012 conference by clicking on this video link.)
Click here if you'd like to register to attend the conference.
The Grand Summit Hotel at Mount Snow has blocked a limited number of rooms at the discounted rate of $99 per night for attendees. Lodging is at the individual expense of attendees. Telephone 800-817-0764 for reservations. Be sure to refer to the Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Conference when making reservations to qualify for the special group rate.
We wish to extend our sincere thanks to the following organizations for their support of the 2nd Annual Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Conference:
Vermont African American Heritage Trail Launched
Recently, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing opened an African-American Heritage Trail with several sites (including Grafton) of importance to black history in the state.
The trail brings visitors to Vermont museums and cultural sites where exhibits, tours, and personal explorations illuminate the lives of African Americans for whom the Green Mountain State was part of their identity.
Curtiss Reed Jr., the executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, said the trail is intended to boost cultural tourism in the Green Mountain State and increase awareness of its track record of racial tolerance. A PDF of the complete article can be obtained by clicking here.
The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, in association with the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity has published a full-color brochure of nineteen significant locations on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail. A PDF of this brochure can be obtained by clicking here.
Curtiss Reed to moderate screening of "The Powerbroker" at Johnson State College
As part of its celebration of Black History month, Johnson State College, in association with Vermont Public Television, will screen the documentary, "The Powerbroker", the story of Whitney Young, who has been called the "inside man of the black revolution."
Curtiss Reed, Executive Director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity will moderate a discussion of the film following its conclusion. The event will take place on February 7 at 4 PM in Bentley Hall, room 207.
More information about the film is available here.