Racial disparity found in resisting arrest charges in North Carolina, other parts of U.S.

The charge of resisting an officer, sometimes called “resist, delay, obstruct,” or simply RDO, has been scrutinized around North Carolina and the country for racial disparities and links to police use of force.

In Harnett County, between Raleigh and Fayetteville, a squad of sheriff’s deputies with a high number of resist charges in 2014 and 2015 was shown by the Raleigh News & Observer to have a penchant for violent arrests. The U.S. Department of Justice stepped in, opening a criminal investigation. Residents, including the family of a man killed by a deputy, brought a federal lawsuit.

In Greensboro, where black residents make up 42 percent of the city’s population, police made the resist charge by itself 836 times against African-Americans from 2009-13, according to the New York Times. That was four times the number of standalone RDOs against white people, at 209. Those numbers, coupled with racial disparity in traffic stops, led police in 2015 to announce they would stop pulling over motorists for minor infractions involving vehicle flaws.