San Jose police combat racial profiling accusations

September 3, 2013 7:41:05 PM PDT
San Jose may be the first city in the nation to document every time an officer temporarily detains someone on the curb or in the back seat of a patrol car. The new policy comes after years of complaints that officers were profiling certain racial groups.

San Jose resident David Tafaoimalo remembers when a police officer ordered him to sit on the curb after being stopped.

"Never feels good to be questioned like that when you didn't do anything," Tafaoimalo said.

It's been a complaint San Jose police have been battling for years, one that has been brought up by the Independent Police Auditor's Office. The policy deals with handcuffing, curb sitting or putting a detainee in the back seat of a patrol car for a limited time.

"We saw it more in communities of color this issue being raised and the sentiment was also voiced that persons felt it was demeaning," Independent Police Auditor's Office spokesperson Shivaun Nurre said.

But now, San Jose police must document each incident. The officer must record the result of the stop, the person's race, whether a search was conducted and the number of people involved.

An officer will record it on his or her mobile computer or call it in to a dispatcher.

"The goal of our limited detention policy is to increase transparency and accountability within our police department and our goal is to better our relationship with the community by doing so," San Jose Police Department spokesperson Heather Randol said.

The program was initially put into effect by retiring Police Chief Chris Moore in January. However, it was quickly suspended while the operational issues were handled.

"They can know what's going on and you know, do the study and find out if it is profiling. I think it's a good thing, you know. Someone has to be able to hold them accountable," Tafaoimalo said.

The police department didn't say when it would start releasing the data once it's collected. It will be a matter of public record.


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