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Social, Demographic, and Legal Characteristics of Drug Arrests in Lexington, Kentucky

NCJ Number
Date Published
18 pages
This descriptive analysis examined race, gender, characteristics of arrest location, legal characteristics, and police activity by beat area for 1996 drug arrestees in Lexington, Ky.
The data collected included all crime reports for drug violations for 1996 within the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Division of Police, Lexington, Ky. These arrest data represented 930 drug-violation case summaries. The crime data sheets included information on offender characteristics, circumstances of arrest, asset forfeiture information, police personnel information, and arrest location; additionally, data were collected on the average family income by arrest location. Findings show that in 1996 drug violations constituted only 8.0 percent of all arrests within the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Division of Police jurisdiction. One important finding suggests that drug enforcement in Lexington, although concentrated in lower income areas, is spread across more medium-income areas than national data suggest. This may show that the jurisdiction studied embraces a more comprehensive drug enforcement strategy; however, drug enforcement is still primarily concentrated in economically disadvantaged areas. Consistent with previous findings, minorities are disproportionately represented in drug arrests, composing almost three times their population percentage. Females were arrested more for minor offenses and street-level drug activity. Although efforts to conduct drug enforcement by routine patrol is fairly evenly distributed across minorities, whites, and both genders alike, warrant arrests and proactive undercover operations apparently have differential effects by race and gender, with minorities and females at the focal point. As some critics have observed, the minority use and trafficking of crack may explain more selective enforcement initiatives in areas where these citizens reside. 6 tables and 11 references