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Important Note About Arrests

You are cautioned against looking at the data and coming to conclusions too rashly. It is simply not valid to compare the number of arrests made by one officer, with the number of arrests made by any other officer. There are too many factors involved.

There are several things to keep in mind when looking at the arrest counts for officers.

The officer himself does not determine who gets arrested.  The Law determines who gets arrested, and more specifically the arrestee determines whether or not he gets arrested by his choice of behaviour. Police Officers do not just arbitrarily pick and choose who gets arrested. There are State Statutes, County and City Ordinances, and Departmental Policies that govern this. If you get arrested, it's because you have done something that caused it - or given the officer a suitable or substantial reason to believe that you have done something that warrants an arrest.

The percentages of people of any given race who are arrested by any given officer is heavily affected by the unit and division to which that officer is assigned to work; and this is almost always out of his or her hands. This is, with few exceptions, an assignment, not a request.

The numbers may at times make it appear that one group is disproportionately represented over another. For instance, it may be argued that while approximately equal numbers of blacks and whites get arrested, blacks represent only about 20% (in this hypothetical example) of the population, and therefore are being arrested at a higher rate than whites. However, comparing the general population of whites with the general population of blacks (or any other ethnic group) is not a valid comparison when talking about arrest rates. What we should be comparing is the population of both whites and blacks who are engaging in criminal activity and thus drawing the attention of Law Enforcement. Those two populations may not correlate at all to the general population and may be much closer in number and result in an arrest rate with a smaller than expected margin.

When comparing the arrest rate of ethnic groups, you must compare it to all other ethnic groups, not against one specific other group. Thus, it it not valid for one ethnic group to compare it's results with only one other ethnic group. The only valid comparison is that ethnic group in comparison to all others. The question is not one of what percentage is my group compared to some other group, but rather, what percentage is my group compared to the whole, compared with another group compared to that same whole?

An officer may make an arrest even though he is not the officer that detained or stopped the suspect initially. That is to say, you may be approached, detained, questioned, and otherwise handled by one officer, only to be arrested by a completely different officer, possibly in a compltely different branch of law enforcement. There are occasions where an officer assists another officer in a completely different law enforcement branch. For instance, a Tulsa PD assisting a TCSO deputy. The arrest may go to the officer who has jurisdiction at the location, or to whoever it is previously agreed "has the scene" (which, again, is usually based on jurisdiction).

Also, a single incident may result in several "arrests" of the exact same person. For instance, if you are pulled over and cited with DUI, the officer finds you in possession of CDS, and finds a gun under your seat and you without a CCW permit, you are probably going to get arrested on at least three charges. Each charge will, technically, be counted as an arrest.

All of this means that chance and happenstance play a significant role in how many arrests an officer has made. It is certainly true that "personal feelings" of the officer, while playing an unavoidable role (due to the fact that the officer is, after all, a human being), the officer's "personal feelings" on a matter unavoidably affect what they do, but the effect is marginal and largely irrelevant and inconsequential - it has been "trained out of them" from the time the entered the Academy, and supervisors and performance reviews keep it in check from then on.

You don't get arrested because the officer doesn't like you. You get arrested because the Law doesn't like what you've done. And if you show up on the scene having done five things the Law doesn't allow, you are going to get "arrested" five times, and no one's personal feelings have anything to do with it.

It is an undeniable fact that in any populated place, some areas are going to be prone to crime than others. It is simply unreasonable and ignorant to expect otherwise. It is not our intent to explain the reasons why - that is a matter of sociology and psychology and human nature. We are really only concerned with accurately presenting the numbers as reported by the Tulsa Police Department.

By and large, the number of arrests made by any given officer will be greatly impacted by what division/unit the officer works in and what sort of work they do. Thus, it is entirely possible to have one officer who rarely, if ever makes an arrest because their job function does not put them in that position very often. An Evidence Room officer, or a parking meter officer (as the case may be), will rarely be expected to make arrests. The same goes for other police functions - especially those who play supporting roles that result in arrests, even though they themselves rarely perform the arrests. This would be the case in something like a Computer Crimes investigator. He may develop the case entirely, and yet when an arrest is to be made, it may be carried out (and usually is) by a Uniform Patrol officer or a Detective. Very often, plainclothes detectives will have a Uniform Patrol officer on hand to make the arrest, simply for "appearance" reasons. People are less likely to resist someone who actually looks like a police officer. (That's one reason why the Department fusses so much about what the uniform should look like.)

So while looking at these numbers, do keep in mind that the arrest numbers are very significantly affected by time and chance, and very insignificantly affected by the personal feelings of the officer. These arrest decisions are almost always made for them and it makes no sense at all to blame them for the arrests that they have made.

The only people we may blame for the number of arrests made by the Tulsa Police Department is ourselves.
 
 
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