Task force reviewing racial profiling in SJ

March 18, 2009 5:24:05 PM PDT
San Jose's police department is welcoming an in-depth review of whether officers engage in racial bias when making arrests, especially targeting Latinos.

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Social scientists from a recently formed academic group will conduct the study.

"We may not agree with everything that they may put in the report. We may not be happy with some of the things they may put in the report. But, I think if you are going to be a leader in the law enforcement community you've got to stand up and say you're willing to hear it and you're willing to try and act upon it," said Police Chief Rob Davis.

City leaders announced that the research initiative will be conducted by the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity, which did a similar project in Denver. The mayor says this independent research is paid by consortium grants and no city monies will be spent.

Mayor Chuck Reed told ABC7, "Racial profiling is against department policy. It's against the law. It's not to be allowed. If there's a problem we need to identify it and fix it, and that's what we're trying to do."

Some community groups say they feel blindsided by Wednesday's announcement and accuse the city of undermining efforts already underway by a local task force. That task force was formed in November by the city council and is specifically looking at racial bias in public intoxication arrests.

"The entire task force was created because the community was demanding this investigation, had allowed us to voice those concerns, and we're not told this third-party was going to be asked to review any sort of material?" said task force member Raj Jayadev.

The city says the task force work will continue and some members say the outside review shows the city is taking their concerns seriously.

"It is not falling into a black hole and the public should feel very good about this move," said task force member Otis Watson.

There is no timetable yet for the process, but the results will be made public.

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