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Read about the latest decisions at the state Capitol and how they impact your life (Fridays)
Law enforcement agencies across California now have clear rules about what racial and other identifying information must be reported to the state Department of Justice about those stopped by police, and the outcome of those stops.
This month, the state’s Office of Administrative Law approved new regulations for data reporting required by the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, written by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. Weber has said the law is “aimed at ensuring that all Californians are treated fairly by law enforcement.”“It’s time for us to address bias in policing from a policy-making perspective,” Weber said in a statement Wednesday. “With these regulations we will have the comprehensive hard data necessary to understand the scope of the problem and to make practical decisions about how to reduce over-policing persons of color, a practice that wastes resources, engenders mistrust and compromises public safety.”
Among other things, 449 California law enforcement agencies will have to report to the Department of Justice:
San Diego Police and the San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies participated in a two-week trial run of the proposed rules earlier this year. The results showed minorities were stopped disproportionately when compared with the local population, though spokesmen for both agencies discouraged making such demographic comparisons given the small size of the dataset.
During the field test, a high volume of vague answers like “other” and “NA” stymied meaningful analysis. Over objections from some law enforcement agencies that complained further explanation was time-consuming, officers will be required to write a short explanation of the reason for stop and basis for a search in their own words.
“Studies have shown that biased policing – whether it is the result of implicit or explicit bias –results in inefficiencies and resource misallocation,” DOJ officials wrote in an economic impact statement. The stop data “will help to inform training recommendations” and play a “role in enhancing trust between agencies and the communities they serve, as a result of increased transparency and accountability,” it said.
The costs of implementation will “vary widely” for each agency, from $0 to $2 million, according to agency surveys collected by the DOJ. Agencies may submit data through a web application available, or compile the data locally before sending.
California’s eight largest law enforcement agencies – a group that includes the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and San Diego Police Department – must begin collecting stop data on Jan. 1, 2018, and submit their first stop report by April 2019. Other agencies will follow, with full implementation by April 2023.
The San Diego Police Department already compiles similar data, but the Sheriff’s Department does not.
When fully implemented, DOJ officials estimate they’ll receive data for 16.7 million stops statewide annually, for an average 255 stops per officer each year. Routine security screenings required to enter a building or event will not be included.
The data will be shared on the DOJ’s OpenJustice website.
– Ashly McGlone
Environmentalists and anti-sewage activists along the border question why up to $1.6 million from a law sold as a way to clean up the Tijuana River Valley may instead help build a new campground there.
The campground, long a pet project of San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, may get money from the new law, SB 507, written by Sen. Ben Hueso and signed by the governor last month. The law gives the county $2.1 million from a 1988 bond that was meant to help fund state parks. About $500,00 is going to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to study what it would take to prevent sewage spills, but the rest may go to park enhancements, including designing a new campground there. For years, Cox has wanted a campground in the valley. Last year, Border Patrol warned the county that it was dangerous to put a campground so close to the border.
Cox says cleaning up the cross-border sewage spills into the valley is a federal obligation, not a state one, and taking state money meant for parks isn’t the answer.
“No one is more frustrated than I am with the lack of federal action to stop these sewage flows that plague South County beach water and communities,” he said in a letter responding to environmentalists’ concerns.
Fixing the problems in the valley would require hundreds of millions of dollars, on both sides of the border, so nobody argues $1.6 million is anything more than a drop in the bucket. Yet, environmentalists are baffled that money that could go to help clean up land riddled with toxic water might instead be used on a campground. It’s not yet clear exactly how the money will be spent, though.
“This is like pork barrel federal stuff,” said Lance Rodgers, one of the members of Citizens Against Sewage.
– Ry Rivard
Three women have now accused state Sen. Tony Mendoza of inappropriate behavior. A misconduct claim against Assemblyman Devon Mathis has also surfaced, the Sacramento Bee reports.
And in case those and other recent cases hasn’t driven it home, the New York Times has a piece detailing just how pervasive misconduct toward women is in Sacramento.