WESTBROOK — The Police Department will undertake an “in-depth analysis” of its use of force data to find and address any issues with systemic racism and bias, the mayor announced last week.

Mayor Mike Foley told the City Council of his plans Monday, reading from a press release he sent out after publication of a Sept. 9 American Journal article on data that showed Westbrook officers’ disproportionate use of force on Black people. He provided no details on how the analysis would be funded or carried out.

“We are working on options, though not sure on the specific timing as of yet,” Foley said Wednesday.

Police Chief Janine Roberts said previously that her department lacks the technology and staff needed to dive deeper into the data to provide context.

She said this week an outside group may be brought in to analyze the data, but plans are “in the very beginning stages of discussions.”

The mayor said in his statement that he and other city leaders “have complete confidence” in the police department and its officers’ interactions with the public.

Data shows between 2016 and 2019, 14%-17% of officers’ use of force involved Black people, but just 2.3% of Westbrook residents are Black, according to the 2010 census demographics, the most recent available.

Both advocates and police say the data is too limited to draw specific conclusions, but advocates, including Harrison Deah and City Councilor Claude Rwaganje, say it raises concerns about bias.

“The Police Department will be conducting an in-depth analysis of the department’s use of force incidents for previous years. We expect this analysis to provide the additional context,” Foley said in his press release.

“If the analysis provides evidence that implicit biases and other controllable factors have influenced officers’ decision making processes, the department will be accountable, own it and work at making needed adjustments,” he said.

The Police Department will inform the public about the results of the analysis and community discussions will be held, he said.

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