Panel Paper: American Indian Women Are Disproportionately Stopped, Searched, and Arrested By Police in Minneapolis

Friday, November 9, 2018
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Marina Mileo Gorsuch1, Deborah Rho2, Elizabeth Axberg1 and Amanda Williams1, (1)St. Catherine University, (2)University of St. Thomas

Nationally, 32% of Native Americans report that they are excessively stopped and unfairly treated by the police. Minneapolis has a substantial Native American community, and the Minneapolis Police Department recently began releasing data on each police interaction in Minneapolis - providing an opportunity to examine police interactions with Native Americans in Minneapolis.

Police in Minneapolis interact with American Indian women much more frequently than other women. We found that American Indian women comprise 1.42% of the population of women in Minneapolis, but accounted for 6.57% of police interactions of women taking place in Minneapolis (including traffic stops, non-vehicle stops, and non-enforcement interactions) from November 1, 2016, to October 19, 2017. This is a ratio of 4.63, meaning that American Indian women interacted with the police 4.63 times as often as they would be if their interactions were proportional to their share in the city’s female population.

After police officers initiated an interaction, it proceeded in a different way for American Indian men and women than for people of other races. After an interaction begins, the police officer may perform a search of the person and/or the vehicle. 27% of American Indian women were searched, while white women were only searched 6% of the time. The interaction concluded with 20% American Indian women being arrested and booked, compared to only 4% of white women. Native Americans were arrested over twice as often as any other race.

To examine whether the disproportionate searches and arrests of American Indian women were driven by other characteristics – for example, where the stop happens, the time of the stop, and the reported “problem” of the stop – we examine differences in searches and arrests after controlling for these factors. The differences in personal searches, vehicle searches, and arrests persist after accounting for these important variables.

We met with Chief Arradondo and leaders in the Minneapolis Police Department to discuss the results of our research. When using internal data the MPD discovered that approximately 60% of the interactions with Native American women were actually a specific non-enforcement interaction known as an “on site.” Because the data collection process does not allow for an “on site,” these were all automatically coded as suspicious person stops. The MPD was unaware that this was happening, and are updating their data collection process to eliminate this error.

The MPD intend to allow us access to internal data during the summer of 2018. The MPD has collected data on which stops are repeated of the same person, reason for arrest (including a warrant), number of people involved in the stop, and other information. At APPAM 2018, we will present the results of our analysis of the internal MPD data – identifying the causes of disproportionate enforcement and non- enforcement stops of Native American women in Minneapolis. Additionally, will add contextual data to investigate the underlying causes of these disparities. We will investigate the roles of sex work, drug use, homelessness, human trafficking, and precinct policies (eg, community building efforts).