Cal­i­for­nia’s plan to curb racial pro­fil­ing

New state rules will have lo­cal po­lice get de­mo­graphic data on the peo­ple they stop.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - LIAM DIL­LON liam.dil­lon@la­times.com

SACRA­MENTO — This week, Cal­i­for­nia Atty. Gen. Xavier Be­cerra re­vised rules for how po­lice of­fi­cers in the state will have to track data aimed at prevent­ing racial pro­fil­ing.

Start­ing with the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment and other large law en­force­ment agen­cies in July 2018, of­fi­cers will col­lect in­for­ma­tion de­tail­ing race, gen­der and other de­mo­graphic de­tails every time po­lice pull some­one over in their car or other­wise de­tain them.

Here’s why the plan ex­ists, what its au­thor hopes it will ac­com­plish and how the new rules will work:

Why are po­lice de­part­ments go­ing to col­lect data in the first place?

Civil rights ad­vo­cates have long ar­gued that po­lice treat blacks, Lati­nos and other mi­nori­ties dif­fer­ently than whites. Crim­i­nal jus­tice re­searchers have been an­a­lyz­ing data about law en­force­ment in­ter­ac­tions to try to un­der­stand po­lice ac­tiv­ity.

In Oak­land, black men were four times more likely than whites to be searched dur­ing traf­fic stops and were more likely to be hand­cuffed even if they weren’t ar­rested, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 re­port from Stan­ford aca­demics who an­a­lyzed the city’s data on po­lice stops.

A more re­cent Stan­ford study found that in Los An­ge­les County, black driv­ers were stopped more fre­quently than whites and Lati­nos.

Re­searchers dif­fer over the value of such data in re­veal­ing po­lice racial bi­ases — higher crime rates in some neigh­bor­hoods with large mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tions could help ex­plain racially dis­parate stop rates, for in­stance — but col­lec­tion ef­forts are spotty across Cal­i­for­nia. That’s where this ini­tia­tive comes in.

In 2015, dur­ing the height of the Black Lives Mat­ter protests, Assem­bly­woman Shirley We­ber (D-San Diego) wrote leg­is­la­tion to force every po­lice depart­ment in Cal­i­for­nia to col­lect racial and other de­mo­graphic data when of­fi­cers stop peo­ple. The aim, We­ber said, is to in­form pol­icy for how po­lice in­ter­act with com­mu­ni­ties of color.

“Data is the best tool for ad­dress­ing com­mu­nity con­cerns about racial bias in polic­ing,” We­ber said in a state­ment. “The in­for­ma­tion col­lected will help get us past the de­bate about whether the prob­lem ex­ists, and in­stead help us move for­ward in de­ter­min­ing the scope of the prob­lem, who’s tar­geted and where it might be con­cen­trated.” Where do things stand now?

We­ber’s bill re­quired the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice to fig­ure out how the data col­lec­tion process would work.

Would of­fi­cers have to col­lect data only on traf­fic stops, or pedes­trian and bike stops as well? Would of­fi­cers track just racial data, or gen­der and other de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion, too? Are there cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, such as dur­ing an ac­tive shooter in­ves­ti­ga­tion, where cops wouldn’t need to fill out the forms?

Th­ese rules were sup­posed to be fin­ished by Jan­uary, but they weren’t. The process was de­layed fur­ther when Be­cerra took over for Ka­mala Har­ris af­ter her elec­tion to the U.S. Se­nate.

An ini­tial ver­sion of the reg­u­la­tions gave law en­force­ment groups heart­burn be­cause they be­lieved the process was too bur­den­some. San Diego’s po­lice chief, for in­stance, es­ti­mated it would take her of­fi­cers 17,000 hours an­nu­ally to col­lect the data re­quired.

Be­cerra met with po­lice de­part­ments, civil rights groups and re­searchers be­fore re­leas­ing this week’s re­vi­sions. He also en­listed the LAPD and a hand­ful of other agen­cies in April to test how of­fi­cers might tally the de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion.

Un­der the re­vised reg­u­la­tions, po­lice of­fi­cers will have to col­lect data on nearly every stop they make, in­clud­ing in­ter­ac­tions with pedes­tri­ans and peo­ple on bikes.

They’ll have to track a per­son’s gen­der, English pro­fi­ciency and any dis­abil­i­ties as well. But in emer­gen­cies, such as mass evac­u­a­tions dur­ing bomb threats or earth­quakes, the rules won’t ap­ply.

Re­ac­tion to Be­cerra’s re­vi­sion has been slow. Michael Du­rant, pres­i­dent of the 69,000-mem­ber Peace Of­fi­cers Re­search Assn. of Cal­i­for­nia, which rep­re­sents most rank-and-file of­fi­cers in the state, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion was re­view­ing the new pro­posal.

The reg­u­la­tions still are not fi­nal, and Be­cerra’s of­fice could make more changes.

When will the new rules take ef­fect?

The LAPD and Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff ’s Depart­ment and the seven other agen­cies in Cal­i­for­nia with 1,000 or more of­fi­cers will begin col­lect­ing the data next July and re­lease their first an­nual re­ports in April 2019.

Every year, more de­part­ments will be re­quired to start col­lect­ing data. By 2022, all po­lice agen­cies in Cal­i­for­nia will be re­spon­si­ble for do­ing so.

Brian van der Brug Los An­ge­les Times

ASSEM­BLY­WOMAN Shirley We­ber says the law she wrote will “help us move for­ward” on racial bias.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.