Bill preventing unlawful stops of San Francisco drivers, pedestrians expected to pass

SAN FRANCISCO -- A bill that would require police to report the race and gender of motorists and pedestrians they stop is now close to becoming law in San Francisco.

The last vote on the law is set for next Tuesday, but that vote is just a formality. It passed unanimously Tuesday, so it is veto proof, although San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr have voiced their support for the law.

This now means San Francisco will become one of the most transparent cities in the country when it comes to law enforcement stops.

The legislation was introduced by supervisor Malia Cohen who wants to prevent unlawful stops by police.

"I want to know how many we have and I then also want to work with my colleagues to create legislation to prevent that from happening," Cohen said.

Cohen had plenty of support for the bill.

"African Americans are more than seven times more likely than white adults to be arrested in San Francisco," said San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar.

Police in San Francisco are already collecting data such as race and gender on traffic stops. The original bill would have required officers to get that information from not only the driver but passengers in the car. Suhr objected to that.

"If we don't have reasonable suspicion to detain somebody, we can't ask them any information at all, and we would not," Suhr said.

Cohen amended her bill to exclude that requirement, but the legislation doesn't end with traffic stops. It extends the collecting of race and gender data to pedestrian stops.

The same information must be collected every time an officer detains or conducts a field interview with a person.

Suhr says it may take a year or more to set up a system to do that.

"We have not been able to, nor do we have the wherewithal right now to collect all pedestrian detention and field interviews," Suhr said.

The bill has one final vote next week, but since there was no opposition, it's more than likely to pass.