Data from CA traffic stops shows 'pervasive pattern' of racial profiling, report says

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Friday, January 5, 2024
Data from CA traffic stops shows pattern of racial profiling: report
Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board found that police racial profiling remains a problem Hispanic and Black communities in California.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many people of color say their general mistrust and fear of police stems from them being stopped by law enforcement more than others - and now there are stats to back it up.

After looking at data from all law enforcement agencies in the state of California, the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board found that racial profiling remains a problem for people of color, especially within the Hispanic and Black communities.

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"The data is pretty clear that year over year and now agency over agency, we have a problem," RIPA Co-Chair Andrea Guerrero said. "We have a problem with disparities in law enforcement stops."

Guerrero says the numbers from their annual report -- which looked at the nearly 4.6 million vehicle and pedestrian stops in 2022 from all California law enforcement agencies -- showed a pattern of profiling in the state.

The report found that Hispanic or Latino people made up about 43% of traffic stops, above their 32% share of California's population. It also found that Black people account for nearly 13% of traffic stops in California, above their 5% share of the state's population.

"No surprise. It's the same data that we get each and every time one of these reports come out," Anti Police-Terror Project Executive Director Cat Brooks said.

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The data represents the race perceived by officers and not the race people may identify with because that is what drives the bias. It uses 2021 population data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Brooks says the problem is that racially profiled stops lead to problems like mental health issues and sometimes serious injury or death.

"We need to know that according to the data, these preemptive stops by law enforcement in the name of public safety actually do little to nothing for public safety," Brooks said. "What they do do, however, is increase engagement between vulnerable communities and police officers that lead to incidents of violence."

People of color are experiencing similar struggles here in the Bay Area, according to stats our ABC7 News Data Team pulled for Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.

The Hispanic and Latino population in San Jose represented nearly 54% of stops, more than double their percentage of the population.

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In Oakland, 49% of total stops came from the Black community, who only represent 21% of the population.

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And Black people account for 23% of traffic stops in San Francisco, which is far above their 5% share of the city's population.

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A prior analysis the ABC7 data team conducted showed that between 2018 and 2020, SFPD traffic stops of the Black community represented 18.2% of the total and the Hispanic population represented 20%. From 2015 to 2018 in Oakland, OPD reported 59.5% of stops were of the Black community and 21% of the stops were of the Hispanic community.

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"I hope that the public finds opportunity in a report that is as eyes-wide-open as it could possibly be to recognize and address the issue of profiling," Guerrero said.

Guerrero says the numbers represent a statewide problem and she hopes solutions can be found to move away from identity-based policing and move towards evidence-based policing.

Late Thursday, the Police Officers Associations of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose released a statement in response to the statewide report that reads in part:

"The report attempts to make the case that any car stop above the population percentage of any given race must be racial profiling. That's intellectually dishonest... Simply put, if a driver has a car with out-of-date vehicle registration tags, a broken brake or headlight, or is driving recklessly or speeding, then they are most likely going to get pulled over. That is all about behavior and not race."

To read the full statement, click here.

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