The NAACP Bucks County Chapter has released a comprehensive report on race and policing in Bucks County. The report is the result of a three-year effort to gather and analyze information from all 39 Bucks County police departments.
Key findings from the report include:
- Arrests of African Americans in Bucks County are disproportionately high – Between 2014 and 2021, the percentage of arrests involving African Americans was approximately 4.6 times their representation in the county as a whole. Across PA, that figure was 2.8, suggesting this is a particularly problematic issue for Bucks County.
- African Americans appear to be disproportionately subjected to police use of force – Based on the limited data provided by police departments, African Americans are the subject of physical force by police in numbers approximately five times their representation in the county population.
- African Americans appear to be disproportionately subjected to traffic stops – Based on the limited data provided by police departments, African Americans were stopped in numbers approximately 1.7 times their representation in the county population.
- Despite publicly stated commitment, Use of Force policies remain inconsistent across police departments – After a November 2020 public announcement that all Bucks County police departments would incorporate 15 common principles into Use of Force policies, to date 28% of departments have not done so – and until the NAACP pointed out the significant lack of compliance in early 2023, 46% of departments had not done so.
- Complaints against police are a tightly held secret – Only 12 of 39 police departments were willing to share any information about the date, disposition, and details of complaints, despite the NAACP request for de-identified data. Only 26% of Bucks County police departments follow best practices to ensure community members feel safe in reporting police misconduct.
“Everyone in Bucks County should be able to count on equal protection by our police,” said Karen Downer, President, NAACP Bucks County. “As the mother of a state trooper, I know that policing works best when there is trust between the police and the community. We call on our police departments and the elected officials who oversee them to take immediate action to address these troubling inequalities in enforcement.”
The NAACP 2023 Report on Reimagining Public Safety was inspired by public concern that arose following the murder of George Floyd.
Over three years, an NAACP team engaged directly with each municipal police department, seeking transparency to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data assessment and collaboration to address the issues identified.
It took two years to get most of the limited data that was provided, and it became clear to the team that public engagement would be necessary to achieve substantive action on racial disparities.
The Report examines enforcement equity and policies related to training and accountability. It covers a wide range of topics beyond the key areas outlined above, including community representation on police forces; union contracts’ impact on police accountability; use of body, vehicle, and interrogation cameras; complaints and the handling of misconduct; and de-escalation and crisis intervention training.
The full report and data appendices are available at naacpbucks.org/policing.