Morning Report: Police Stop Data Shows Racial Disparities - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Police Stop Data Shows Racial Disparities

San Diego Police officers make a traffic stop on University Avenue in City Heights. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

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Black people are searched by San Diego Police and San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies at a higher rate than any other race, even though they’re less likely to be found with illegal items, according to a new data analysis by Voice of San Diego and the UC San Diego Extension Center for Research.

Black people also have the greatest imbalance between stop rates and local population levels. Making up just 4 percent of the county’s population, black people account for 8 percent of the total stops made by Sheriff’s deputies from July 2018 to July 2019. In the city, black people make up just 5 percent of the population but account for 19 percent of all stops made by police.

“Racial bias in policing is alive and well in San Diego’s police agencies,” said Clovis Honore, president of the local NAACP branch.

San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, who chairs the city’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee, also expressed alarm at the results. 

“These initial findings are extremely concerning,” she said. “All San Diegans deserve to be afforded the same dignity and respect from those who serve and protect.”

Representatives from local law enforcement groups, meanwhile, disputed the value of such comparisons and said racial profiling isn’t happening.

“I wish people knew that disparate findings are not indicative of racism or discrimination of officers, but they will be pushed to think otherwise to drive support to legislative agendas,” said SDPD spokesman Jeff Jordon.

A separate report on police stop data released Tuesday by Campaign Zero and commissioned by the local ACLU chapter, shared similar findings. The analysis showed police stopped black people at higher rates than white people in 85 percent of the police beats in their jurisdiction, while Sheriff’s deputies stopped black people at a higher rate when compared with white people in every area of their jurisdiction.

Beyond that, the group found huge disparities in what happened once a black person was stopped. Police were 25 percent more likely to search a black person, 8 percent more likely to arrest someone without a warrant and 59 percent more likely to use force against when compared with white people. 

Similarly, Sheriff’s deputies were 21 percent more likely to search a black person, 18 percent more likely to arrest without a warrant and 47 percent more likely to use force.

Samuel Sinyangwe, the group’s co-founder and author of the report, said the data shows “a clear pattern of discriminatory policing.” 

There Might Be a Grand Bargain on Inclusionary Housing

Council President Georgette Gómez has announced a press conference Monday to celebrate an agreement that her office and representatives from pro-business, labor and community groups have struck on a city affordable housing policy.

Gómez has been trying for more than a year to change a city policy that requires developers to reserve a certain amount of homes in their projects for low-income people, or pay a fee if they choose not to. She wants to increase the fee and reserve the homes for people making even less money.

But her first effort to do so won only five votes from the City Council, not enough to overcome the mayor’s veto. Mayor Kevin Faulconer opted to veto the plan – opposed by development and pro-business groups – and Gómez failed to overcome it, in part because Democratic Councilwoman Vivian Moreno joined Council Republicans in opposing the measure.

Now, though, all the interested parties appear to have reached some sort of compromise, though it’s not yet clear what terms they’ve agreed to.

Strong Towns Author on San Diego

Chuck Marohn, an author and founder of the urban planning website Strong Towns, came to San Diego Wednesday to promote his new book, “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity.” It’s basic premise is that post-war development has created financially insecure cities because their sprawling patterns can’t produce enough value to compensate for the exorbitant costs of infrastructure needed to support them.

It would be better, he argues, if we continued to build cities that could grow and change incrementally, with a feedback system that rewards what works and penalizes what doesn’t, rather than the now-common process of building entire communities in one fell swoop, then preserving them under glass without any change for decades.

In any case, one city staffer who attended the talk asked a question about how often a property’s value is ultimately determined by how much it would be worth if it could be torn down and redeveloped into something much different, rather than based on how it’s used today.

Marohn thought the question revealed something about development in San Diego.

“Your land use pattern is the most disorienting that I have experienced in North America,” Marohn said. “It makes no sense to me. I find your city disorienting at a grand scale.”

Sure, but how are our burritos?

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In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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