No complaints of racial profiling in SSISD report

Demographic breakdown indicates all groups treated the same

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 21, 2008 - Caucasians are more likely to be stopped by campus cops than any other ethnicity at Sulphur Springs High School, according to the most recent racial profiling report for the school.

A male student is more likely to have an encounter with the law than a female student, according to the annual report Sulphur Springs security officers are required to compile, but demographically, the percentages are "fair to all students" according Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton.

The three campus security officers -- SSISD Police Chief Harold W. Wilson, Gordon Fulcher and Randy Whittle -- provide security and law enforcement for the district. Most of the detentions are characterized as "pedestrian stops," meaning interaction between an officer and an individual detained for the purpose of criminal investigation in which the individual is not under arrest.

Most of the encounters are not initiated by individual officers but result from complaints by individuals or referrals by SSISD administrative staff, according to the report.

In 2007, SSISD's police officers wrote 146 Class C citations, not including parking violations.

Class B misdemeanor and higher offenses are filed through Sulphur Springs Police Department or Hopkins County Sheriff's Office and included in those agencies racial profiling reports.

SSISD-PD received no racial profiling complaints last year, according to the report, which featured data compiled and analyzed by each officer.

Overall, 38 females and 108 males were detained in 2007. Of the 146 detained, 18 percent were African Americans, 6 percent were Hispanics and 76 percent Caucasians.

Of the African Americans detained, 26 were issued citations on "probable cause" alone. ("Probable cause" means the officer has reasonable belief than a person has committed a crime.) One person was issued a citation based on probable cause which led to a consent search, according to Wilson's report.

Six Caucasians were asked for permission to search their belongings based on probable cause and consequently were issued tickets. Citations were issued to 103 other Caucasians based on probable cause.

Security officers obtained permission from two Hispanic students for probable cause searches which resulted in citations being issued. Seven other Hispanic students were issued citations based on probable cause.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedures requires all law enforcement agencies to "compile, analyze and report information" for the reports by March 1. SSISD-PD presented their report to the school board on Feb. 11.

"Its a new requirement to do a racial profiling report," said Superintendent Bolton. "It shows they do not [detain] more students of any one culture than others."

Bolton said the report will be kept on file and will be available for the public to review.

"This also gives us an opportunity to express appreciation to our three officers," Bolton said. "Harold Wilson, Randy Whittle and Gordon Fulcher do a good job

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