Most people arrested in Arlington are Black and most do not reside in Arlington.
That’s according to 2019 arrest data shared by the Arlington County Police Department, at the request of ARLnow and a local community group. Its release follows calls for police reform and nationwide protests over the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement.
ACPD officers arrested 3,613 people in 2019, according to the data, and just over half were Black. Only 35.8% of those arrested live in Arlington.
The data provided says 45% of arrestees were white, but that includes those most of the 19.6% of arrestees identified as Latino. (Latino is considered an ethnicity while Black, white, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaskan Native are classified as races in the ACPD data.)
According to the latest Census estimates, 61.4% of Arlington’s population is non-Hispanic white, 15.6% is Hispanic/Latino, 11.1% is Asian/Pacific Islander, 9.7% is Black, just under 3.6% is multiracial and 0.6% is Indigenous.
More on the ACPD arrest data, from a report that accompanied it:
Of the 3,613 arrestees, 1,830 were identified as Black (50.7%) and 1,625 (45.0%) were identified as White. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islanders 118 arrests (3.3%), American Indian/Alaskan Native 3 arrests (0.1%) and Other/Unknown/Blank Race 37 arrests (1.0%) made up the remainder. Ethnicity of persons are recorded separately from race. Arrestees identified as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity accounted for 708 arrests, 19.6% of total arrests.
Most arrestees (64.2%) did not identify Arlington as their residence. There was some disparity in the Arlington-resident status of arrestees across racial groups. American Indian/Alaskan Natives individuals (66.7%) were the most likely to be an Arlington resident, then Asian individual arrestees (52.5%), followed by White individuals (43.8%), then Black individuals (27.2%). Unknown race individuals were listed as Arlington residents 56.8% of the time. […]
Most arrestees were either 18-25 years old (26.7%) or 26-35 years old (31.4%). The remaining arrestee age cohorts of 36-45 (16.0%) , 46-55 (10.0%), 12-17 (8.3%) and 56+ years old (7.5%) combined for fewer than 50% of total arrestees. When age cohorts were grouped by race, they tended to closely resemble overall racial arrest distribution, with the exception of juvenile arrests. Of total arrested individuals ages 12-17, 61.0% were Black individuals and 36.7% were White individuals, compared to 50.7% and 45.0% across all ages
In a recent Williamsburg Yorktown Daily article about the disproportionate number of Black arrestees in that part of Virginia, a director of the state chapter of the ACLU quotes an unnamed former Arlington commonwealth’s attorney in explaining the county’s disproportionate arrest statistics as largely a function of the residency of those arrested.
Jenny Glass, director of advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia… said the previous commonwealth’s attorney in Arlington County gave a similar explanation when Glass noticed 60 percent of the arrests were black people even though they made up around 10 percent of the population.
“I was looking into if there was any validity why the jail in Arlington County had such a disparate [number] of Black people in it,” Glass said.
“It’s because we arrest a lot of people in D.C.,” Glass said was what the former commonwealth’s attorney told her.
The ACPD report similarly suggests that when residency is separated out, the racial disparities are not as stark. However, even among Arlington residents, the proportion of Black arrestees is still about four times higher than that of the population.
“A comparison of Arlington arrest data to Arlington demographic data is problematic because Arlington-residents only made up 35.8% of ACPD arrests in 2019,” the report says. “If we only examine Arlington-resident arrests – 55% were White individuals, 38.5% were Black individuals, 4.8% were identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, 1.6% were identified as Other/Unknown/Blank race, and 0.2% were American Indian/Alaskan Native individuals.”
Meanwhile, Arlington officers wrote 38,766 non-parking citations in 2019 and the demographics of those receiving citations is more in line with the county’s population.
“Total traffic citations and warnings given to Arlington residents (28.5% of total citations/warnings) closely resemble the racial demography of Arlington,” the ACPD report says. “76.2% of traffic summons/warnings were issued to White residents, 14.2% to Black residents, 5.9% to Asian residents, 3.6% to Other/Unknown residents, and 0.1% to American Indian/Alaskan Native residents.”
The report adds that white and non-white drivers were equally likely to get off on just a warning during a traffic stop.
“Residents were slightly more likely to get a Traffic VUS Warning citation (23.0%) than non-residents (20.4%),” the report said. “Individuals identified as White and individuals identified as non-White received warning citations at virtually the same rate – 21.1% for drivers identified as White, 21.2% for drivers identified as non-White.”
Local criminal justice reform advocates have called for Arlington Police Chief M. Jay Farr, who is retiring at the end of the year, to be replaced by a new chief “who is committed to justice system transformation, eliminating bias, and implementing new methods of policing.”
Farr wrote a letter to the Arlington community to accompany the release of the arrest data. The full letter is below.
July 1, 2020
Dear Arlington Community:
The Arlington County Police Department remains committed to building our trust with our community through transparency. As such, we are providing our arrest and traffic data demographics for 2019.
This data includes arrests by race, residency, age, offense type and geographic location. In addition, we further differentiate the data by the charges levied versus actual custodial arrests. We are also providing demographic information on traffic citations and Virginia Uniform Summons warnings to include race, residential status, and geographic location.
There are several situations when an arrest can be made. In some cases, the officer has discretion and in other cases, they do not, such as when state code mandates an arrest or when a victim desires prosecution. Further analysis of the data is needed to look at discretionary versus non-discretionary arrests, and we are committed to having an independent, outside entity look deeper to evaluate the information.
The Arlington County Police Department continues to build upon our strong partnerships with the community and takes great pride in the relationships we have made. The Department will continue to work proactively with the community to identify needed data values to increase transparency with the public. We are committed to enhancing service delivery and evaluating community recommendations to improve our agency. We thank you for your continued support.
M. Jay Farr
Chief of Police