The San Diego Police Department and its chief, William Lansdowne, used to be national leaders in addressing concerns about racial profiling. Now they’re not.
More than a decade ago, San Diego police were among the first to use data to examine how frequently officers targeted minorities in traffic stops. Today, that policy has become the norm in big urban departments across the country. But in San Diego, the effort has largely fallen by the wayside. Officers here now track race in fewer than one out of every five stops and a sergeant in the department’s research and analysis division wasn’t aware that the requirement to gather the information still existed when we asked about it.
Lansdowne isn’t troubled by the decrease in the department’s data collection efforts. He and his top deputies said residents don’t believe racial profiling is a problem.
“It hasn’t come up in years and years and years in interactions with the community,” said Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who’s in charge of the department’s neighborhood policing efforts.
But those who monitor San Diego police don’t share that perspective. The head of the local Black Police Officers Association, the president of the local NAACP and a city councilman all said racial profiling happens in San Diego and they hear about it.
“Everyone knows it exists,” said Lei-Chala Wilson, the local NAACP president.