The Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) met virtually on May 12 using Zoom. Chair Pam Weigand, Director of Douglas County Criminal Justice Services, facilitated the meeting.
Researchers Jack McDevitt, of Northeastern University, and Janice Iwama, of American University, provided an update on the Law Enforcement Contact Study.
In December 2018, under the leadership of the CJCC, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Police Department, University of Kansas Public Safety, Eudora Police Department and Baldwin City Police Department mutually agreed to contract McDevitt and Iwama to study law enforcement pedestrian and traffic stops in Douglas County.
They were hired through a two-year, $175,000 contract to:
- To develop and implement a process for documenting traffic and pedestrian stops
- To analyze the data to determine if any disproportionalities exist
- To formulate any solutions and assist in developing any necessary procedures and processes related to disproportionate minority contact
The study has three phases:
- Data Collection
Currently, Douglas County is in the Data Collection phase. The researchers shared preliminary patterns and trends based on time of day, seasons and major events like COVID-19. So far, they have reviewed 9,784 pedestrian and traffic stops that were conducted between September 2019 and April 2020.
The data showed a sharp decrease in traffic and pedestrian stops beginning in March, when the stay-home order went into effect. McDevitt said the numbers are consistent with national trends and not unique to Douglas County. The researchers said they would be monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on the dataset, which may require an extension of Phase 2 so they can obtain enough data to draw meaningful conclusions.
The data also showed that 66% of the stops resulted in a warning versus 22% in citations. McDevitt described the county as “really nice” compared to other places that he has studied. He said the data shows that if you get stopped in Douglas County, “you are more likely to get a warning than a citation by far.”
According to the data, the top five reasons for stops were: other traffic violation (30.9%), speeding of 10 mph or more (26.1%), equipment/inspection violation (17.45), violation of city or town ordinance (7.7%) and registration violation (6.5%).
Implicit Bias Training
The Racial and Ethnic Disparities Work Group, chaired by Lawrence Mayor Jennifer Ananda, recommended that all criminal justice system partners complete an implicit bias training and that the training be ongoing.
The work group believes CJCC members should take the training first, so they demonstrate support and leadership for improving work culture. The work group has selected Loretta Summers of the Summers Advisory Group, Inc. to provide the training. The work group plans to schedule a training session within the next couple of months for CJCC members.
GARE Racial Equity Tool
District Attorney Charles Branson has requested the assistance of the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Work Group to review programs and policies of the DA’s Office utilizing the GARE Racial Equity Tool. Shaye Downing, Jennifer Ananda, Tamara Cash, Chuck Epp and Anthony Sanchez have volunteered to help with the project that will be led by Assistant District Attorney LeTiffany “LT” Obozele.
Stepping Up Initiative
Stepping Up is a national intiative is to reduce the number of people with serious mental illness booked into jail. Stepping Up is asking all 20 Innovator Counties, including Douglas County, to commit to setting the following goals:
- Jail Bookings — 10 percent reduction annually. (goal would be 8% for Douglas County).
- Average Length of Stay — 5 percent reduction annually. (goal would be 25 days for Douglas County).
- Connections to Care — 10 percent increase annually. (For Douglas County, the goal would be to establish baseline data). Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer said the county plans to begin using MyResource Connection this summer to collect the data. The project will be piloted with Behavioral Health Court and the Women’s Substance Use Diversion Program.
- Recidivism — 5 percent reduction annually. (Douglas County is committed to a 25% reduction).
- Average Daily Population — 5 percent reduction annually. (Douglas County needs to establish baseline data).
The baseline to establish Douglas County's goals can be found in this November 2019 CSG Justice Center report.
The next CJCC meeting will be at 11 a.m. June 9.
For more information about CJCC, visit https://www.douglascountyks.org/cjcc