GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans say Black people are treated less fairly than white people when it comes to police and the criminal justice system.
Just about every Law Enforcement agency in America is dealing with that perception.
In Giles County, the sheriff said his department was recently quizzed about their enforcement policies. To be transparent, he spoke to News 2 about his officers, his jails, and the racial component of all of it.
As of Friday, Giles County Jail officials tell News 2 there are 138 people in jail; 36 people are Black including 33 men and 3 women versus 102 people who are white; 77 men and 25 women.
Sheriff Kyle Helton has been the sheriff of Giles County since 2006 and said the numbers are the numbers and Giles County deputies don’t police based on the color of a person’s skin.
NAACP officials had multiple questions and concerns that they presented to Sheriff Helton this week, including a perception that his department is unfairly targeting Black suspects.
Sheriff Helton maintains that has never been the case, spoke to them at length, and shared the numbers.
“I think they were a little surprised in our numbers,” said Sheriff Helton, “When we put on this badge, it’s to protect the people of Giles County.”
According to Giles County Jail records from 2017, 2018, and 2019; Black males made up approximately 23% of incarcerations. Over that same time frame, white males account for more than 75% of arrests.
A little more than halfway through 2020 and the numbers show that the arrest of white men is more than twice that of Black men.
White males account for 397 arrests while Black males account for 149 arrests.
“It doesn’t matter the color of the person. We care about our citizens. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone counts. That is why we wanted to show these numbers. We are not targeting anyone. It’s the job we have to do,” said Sheriff Helton.
Sheriff Helton says it is a difficult time to be in law enforcement right now.
“Police officers, law enforcement, we are humans also, we have feelings. It’s tough on the families, and the children. It’s tough right now, but there are a lot of good people out here and they expect us to do our job and we will continue to do our job,” said Sheriff Helton.
Sheriff Helton says his department is transparent and he has offered citizens the opportunity to go on ride-a-longs to see exactly what his deputies see.
We reached out to other jails in Middle Tennessee for a snapshot of the racial make-up of their jail population. Here are those results:
Williamson County Jail
- 200 total inmates
- 49 Black males
- 120 white males
- 23 white females
- 8 Black females
Cheatham County Jail
- 89 males in jail
- 6 Black males
- 83 white males
- No Black females in jail.
Wilson County Jail
- 92 Black males
- 209 white males
- 9 Black females
- 60 white females
- 1,002 males
- 622 Black males
- 262 white males
- 108 Hispanic males
- 170 females
- 73 Black females
- 84 white females
Maury County Jail
- 171 white prisoners
- 71 Black prisoners
- 6 Hispanic prisoners
- 132 white males
- 66 Black Males
Over the last 12 months:
- 2,774 white males
- 1,185 black males