Midland County Sheriff’s Office Says New Report Reflects Changing Demographics

After initially issuing and retracting its 2018 Racial Profiling Report because of a miscalculation, the Midland County Sheriff’s Office recently issued its corrected report. On Monday, it presented the new report to the Midland County Commissioners Court.

The main purpose of the annual state-mandated study is to break down the demographics of people pulled over by law enforcement agencies for traffic stops. Both of the Midland Sheriff’s reports showed a huge increase in the percentage of Hispanic drivers pulled over compared to the past even though the sheriff’s office made fewer traffic stops than the previous year.

According to data provided to the Sheriff’s Office by the Texas Department of Safety, Hispanic drivers only make up 20% of drivers registered in Midland County. But the Sheriff’s Office claims those numbers do not reflect the changing demographics of the region.

Midland County’s new racial profiling report shows Hispanic drivers made up about 55% of all traffic stops performed by Sheriff deputies. This is a huge change since historically the majority of those pulled over in the county have been white.  

Rory McKinney, Chief Deputy for the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, said there’s one way to explain this.

“You know the only thing I can attribute that to is the work that’s available here. We have people coming in from all over and all races.” He continued, “I mean it would be almost impossible to get a clear number of the population of any race in Midland at this point.”

Even though the Texas Department of Safety data shows Hispanics only make up 20% of drivers in Midland County, McKinney said that number is most likely inaccurate. McKinney explained there are so many jobs open in the Permian Basin because of the oil industry that people are coming from all over.

Even though many of those moving to the area to work live in Midland County a lot of people aren’t changing over their driver’s licenses. So, McKinney said, there’s a lot of drivers who aren’t included in the state’s numbers. According to him, the new report lines up with what officers are seeing in the field and that the new report has been double checked to ensure it is correct.

The Racial Profiling Report does list the number of times officers could tell the race of the driver before they were pulled over. Out of 3,180 stops, there were only 114 instances where officers could tell the race of a person before pulling them over.

McKinney said, “We found that the first report was wrong and so we did our best to correct it and feel like we did correct it. We have absolutely zero to hide.”

The reissued report was presented to the Midland County Commissioners Court and McKinney says it was accepted without much questioning.

About Mitch Borden

Mitch Borden is Marfa Public Radio's Permian Basin Reporter. If you have any questions about West Texas' energy industry or the Permian Basin email him at mitch@marfapublicradio.org.
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