On Monday, Feb. 27, San Diego City Council will receive the final San Diego State University report that examined two years of San Diego Police Department traffic stop data. Council members will also get the results of police and community surveys conducted by the report’s authors.

Commentary - in-story logoInitial findings confirmed what many of my constituents have asserted for years; and what some of my neighbors, former students, my friends and my own son have recalled from their own experience: Black and Latino drivers are stopped, searched and questioned at rates higher than their share of the San Diego population.

At Monday’s meeting, the full City Council will have its first opportunity to weigh in on the SDSU report. What more can the public expect to learn at this hearing? More clarity about why people of color are disproportionately pulled over? Or perhaps an explanation for why white drivers, proven to be more likely than black drivers and Latino drivers to have contraband when stopped, are only half as likely to be searched?

We all have an interest in ensuring that racial profiling is not a practice in policing. We expect to hear from SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman about how the department will respond to the report’s recommendations and the serious concerns raised by community members. I hope that San Diego City Council members, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the wider community will also press for this information and require specific commitments about what the SDPD will do to address the issues raised in the report.

To date, Zimmerman’s explanation for the troubling disparities in how police officers interact with the public is that everyone has bias. That may be true, but this report is not about everyone; it is about the police department charged with protecting the public’s safety. If there is bias in the SDPD, Zimmerman has an obligation to address it and not offer empty statements that dismiss the legitimate concerns of communities of color.

The Racial and Identity Profiling Act, signed into law in 2015, is aimed at ensuring that all Californians are treated fairly by law enforcement by collecting information regarding stops made by police. As author of the law, I would encourage the city to implement it ahead of schedule once the regulations are finalized this year.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

This law is not about looking for scapegoats; the identities of the participants, including officers, are protected. It’s about data. It’s about identifying, quantifying and addressing the wasteful and unjust practice of racial profiling, a practice that only serves to reduce law enforcement effectiveness while unnecessarily increasing tensions between police and communities of color. Strengthening police and community relations begins with identifying the scope of this problem and working together to solve it.

In 2000, the SDPD was a national leader in collecting demographic data to address community concerns about biased policing, but then fell out of compliance with its own policy. By implementing the Racial and Identity Profiling Act ahead of schedule, the San Diego Police Department can lead again.

Shirley N. Weber is an Assembly member representing California’s 79th District. Weber’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

    This article relates to: Opinion, Police, Police Misconduct, Racial Profiling

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    8 comments
    Grammie
    Grammie subscribermember

    Simple solution....refrain from pulling over any "people of color".  Limit the police to only stopping white privilege individuals.

    Daniel Smiechowski
    Daniel Smiechowski subscriber

    Danny D2 because the truth shall set you free!!  SD City Council 

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    The San Diego Police Department must not be allowed to take the lead on anything.  They are falsifiers of data, and in that falsification they have been aided and abetted by politicians who are far too many to remember, much less mention. Moreover, the falsification does not end there. San Diego State University; the "Independent" analysts who produced the most recent Vehicle Stop Report, appear to be anything but "Independent." That they are incompetent is certain.


    In October 2016, SDSU produced a Summary that declared that Citywide policing-disparities that existed in 2014, ceased to exist in 2015. Despite having a CPRA, now 19 days old, to produce documents to support that claim, neither SDSU nor the City can produce data or documents to back that claim. It is because no such data exists.



    I could go into other falsifications and deliberate attempts to sabotage data, by the deliberate introduction of "errors" and omissions, many covered by SDSU, and many omitted by them, but wont; not yet.


    A Federal monitor is required.

    Daniel Smiechowski
    Daniel Smiechowski subscriber

        Racial profiling may be indeed the worlds second oldest profession. It is not so much the acts of profiling themselves but rather the behavior within a culture of secrecy and cover-up that ought to be more alarming. As the former "Chair" Public Safety Committee on the CTC, I spoke on SDPD profiling before it became fashionable. As then as now, nobody listens!!  I'm a candidate for D2 SD City Council except no one pays attention. It's ok because the truth shall set you free. Danny  D2   

    Daniel Smiechowski
    Daniel Smiechowski subscriber

    @rhylton @Daniel Smiechowski I am not soft shoeing the SDSU report. My comments were meant to illustrate humanity's moral weakness in seeking truth as per intentions. We may never realize full compliance in respect to justice but nevertheless must remove the fox from the henhouse being SDPD's culture of secrecy and cronyism.

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @Daniel Smiechowski @rhylton My comments are not directed to you. They are in no small measure directed to the Opinion writer, the SD Mayor and SD City Council.


    For example, opinion-writer Shirley Weber states "This law is not about looking for scapegoats; the identities of the participants, including officers, are protected. "  That assertion is flagrantly false; the officer's personnel file contents are protected, but that does not include the Officer's name(identity.) A State representative should know that. I suspect that the opinion- writer does. And, it is false assertions as we have coming from Weber, that allows abominations to continue; where the scofflaw profiling-perpetrators go unidentified and unpunished.

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @Daniel Smiechowski I will not dispute your assertion, but what distinguishes Racial Profiling from the oldest profession is that the oldest profession is a victim-less crime.


    Despite the cries, the beatings and deaths of racial-profiling victims, I suspect that fewer politicians seek to wish it away or would have allowed it to fester in plain sight as we have here. This despite having a damning 15 year old report; one that arrived at essentially the same conclusions as did SDSU, but used  language that was far too polite

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    From the news, it seems like racial profiling is a problem in police departments across the country, but it keeps being treated as a local problem. Consider identifying the practices of department in diverse areas that do not have a racial profiling problem, then try adopting those departments' practices elsewhere.