Video Shows Case of Alleged Racial Profiling

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The People’s Vanguard of Davis has acquired this footage taken in January of 2006. It shows an area couple who witnessed a police officer pulling over an African-American UC Davis student. They then talk to the student who is unhappy at being pulled over.

As with most cases of alleged racial profiling, the evidence is unclear. We do not have access to the interaction between the police officer and the student. And even if we did, we would see the police officer ask a couple of questions, check the car’s paperwork and let the student go. There was no citation given. The charge of racial profiling is difficult to sustain and often explained either by citing a minor vehicle violation or the claim that the person fit the profile of someone sought by the police for the commission of another crime.

The reason that he was allegedly pulled over was failure to signal, however, the student claims that that was untrue and the officer never cites him for it or even gives him a warning. This is a similar story that is told over and over again amongst minority students in this community. A student is pulled over, asked what they are doing, asked where they are from, the license and registration are processed, and then more often than not the person is let go without a citation or even a warning.

I like this clip because the student is clearly well-spoken and someone that most in the community can relate to. He is on his way to a job interview, well-dressed, and driving a nice rental car.

The sad part about this interaction is that these types of interactions between minorities in Davis and the police happen frequently, there is little that can be documented about them and in the end, the only thing this clip can do is raise community awareness about the problem.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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28 thoughts on “Video Shows Case of Alleged Racial Profiling”

  1. Anonymous

    I asked a Davis police officer about these kind of stops. The response I got was interesting. He told me that he stops people all the time for minor driving infractions (no turn signal, unsafe lane changes, etc.). After talking with the driver and determining that they are not drunk or whatever, he’ll give them a break and just let them know why he stopped them and let them go on their way. There is discussion going on in the police department about whether it is better to do this with black drivers or to just cite them for very minor infractions in order to avoid the appearance of racial profiling. It’s a problem. The officer I spoke with said that he wouldn’t change what he’s doing, because he knows how citations impact the drivers financially with fines, increased insurance costs, etc.

  2. Anonymous

    I asked a Davis police officer about these kind of stops. The response I got was interesting. He told me that he stops people all the time for minor driving infractions (no turn signal, unsafe lane changes, etc.). After talking with the driver and determining that they are not drunk or whatever, he’ll give them a break and just let them know why he stopped them and let them go on their way. There is discussion going on in the police department about whether it is better to do this with black drivers or to just cite them for very minor infractions in order to avoid the appearance of racial profiling. It’s a problem. The officer I spoke with said that he wouldn’t change what he’s doing, because he knows how citations impact the drivers financially with fines, increased insurance costs, etc.

  3. Anonymous

    I asked a Davis police officer about these kind of stops. The response I got was interesting. He told me that he stops people all the time for minor driving infractions (no turn signal, unsafe lane changes, etc.). After talking with the driver and determining that they are not drunk or whatever, he’ll give them a break and just let them know why he stopped them and let them go on their way. There is discussion going on in the police department about whether it is better to do this with black drivers or to just cite them for very minor infractions in order to avoid the appearance of racial profiling. It’s a problem. The officer I spoke with said that he wouldn’t change what he’s doing, because he knows how citations impact the drivers financially with fines, increased insurance costs, etc.

  4. Anonymous

    I asked a Davis police officer about these kind of stops. The response I got was interesting. He told me that he stops people all the time for minor driving infractions (no turn signal, unsafe lane changes, etc.). After talking with the driver and determining that they are not drunk or whatever, he’ll give them a break and just let them know why he stopped them and let them go on their way. There is discussion going on in the police department about whether it is better to do this with black drivers or to just cite them for very minor infractions in order to avoid the appearance of racial profiling. It’s a problem. The officer I spoke with said that he wouldn’t change what he’s doing, because he knows how citations impact the drivers financially with fines, increased insurance costs, etc.

  5. Doug Paul Davis

    I have some sympathy for the dilemma in those cases. Certainly there are legitimate stops that should be made.

    However, when I talk to people who have been pulled over many times with similar stories–sometimes there are reasons given, often there are not. I’ve driven in Davis a long time and I’ve been pulled over exactly once because the DMV was late sending me my renewal tag. I talk to black students and they are pulled all the time.

    I don’t have a good answer from the police’s perspective and unfortunately I don’t see a good way to get a handle on this problem because it’s so tricky to identify even with recordings of all encounters.

  6. Doug Paul Davis

    I have some sympathy for the dilemma in those cases. Certainly there are legitimate stops that should be made.

    However, when I talk to people who have been pulled over many times with similar stories–sometimes there are reasons given, often there are not. I’ve driven in Davis a long time and I’ve been pulled over exactly once because the DMV was late sending me my renewal tag. I talk to black students and they are pulled all the time.

    I don’t have a good answer from the police’s perspective and unfortunately I don’t see a good way to get a handle on this problem because it’s so tricky to identify even with recordings of all encounters.

  7. Doug Paul Davis

    I have some sympathy for the dilemma in those cases. Certainly there are legitimate stops that should be made.

    However, when I talk to people who have been pulled over many times with similar stories–sometimes there are reasons given, often there are not. I’ve driven in Davis a long time and I’ve been pulled over exactly once because the DMV was late sending me my renewal tag. I talk to black students and they are pulled all the time.

    I don’t have a good answer from the police’s perspective and unfortunately I don’t see a good way to get a handle on this problem because it’s so tricky to identify even with recordings of all encounters.

  8. Doug Paul Davis

    I have some sympathy for the dilemma in those cases. Certainly there are legitimate stops that should be made.

    However, when I talk to people who have been pulled over many times with similar stories–sometimes there are reasons given, often there are not. I’ve driven in Davis a long time and I’ve been pulled over exactly once because the DMV was late sending me my renewal tag. I talk to black students and they are pulled all the time.

    I don’t have a good answer from the police’s perspective and unfortunately I don’t see a good way to get a handle on this problem because it’s so tricky to identify even with recordings of all encounters.

  9. Anonymous

    I have one question and one comment

    Question
    The idividual stopped said the officer was following him on the freeway – so was this DPD or CHP?

    Comment
    The DPD explanation seems plausible, however the people in the video comment that one has been stopped 9 times and another 500 times in 10 years. I doubt any person has that many minor infractions that are seen by DPD. If the witnesses are telling the truth then something more has to be happening than what the officer explained. I have been driving for 40 years and I have never been pulled over (except for one speeding violation on HWY 5).

  10. Anonymous

    I have one question and one comment

    Question
    The idividual stopped said the officer was following him on the freeway – so was this DPD or CHP?

    Comment
    The DPD explanation seems plausible, however the people in the video comment that one has been stopped 9 times and another 500 times in 10 years. I doubt any person has that many minor infractions that are seen by DPD. If the witnesses are telling the truth then something more has to be happening than what the officer explained. I have been driving for 40 years and I have never been pulled over (except for one speeding violation on HWY 5).

  11. Anonymous

    I have one question and one comment

    Question
    The idividual stopped said the officer was following him on the freeway – so was this DPD or CHP?

    Comment
    The DPD explanation seems plausible, however the people in the video comment that one has been stopped 9 times and another 500 times in 10 years. I doubt any person has that many minor infractions that are seen by DPD. If the witnesses are telling the truth then something more has to be happening than what the officer explained. I have been driving for 40 years and I have never been pulled over (except for one speeding violation on HWY 5).

  12. Anonymous

    I have one question and one comment

    Question
    The idividual stopped said the officer was following him on the freeway – so was this DPD or CHP?

    Comment
    The DPD explanation seems plausible, however the people in the video comment that one has been stopped 9 times and another 500 times in 10 years. I doubt any person has that many minor infractions that are seen by DPD. If the witnesses are telling the truth then something more has to be happening than what the officer explained. I have been driving for 40 years and I have never been pulled over (except for one speeding violation on HWY 5).

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    You can kind of see at the beginning of the clip that it was DPD not CHP.

    I think it is important to note that this video while it’s a nice case study, is just one example of many where there have been people pulled over 9 or even more times and not cited and sometimes not even accused, they are just asked if they are from Sacramento, Oakland or if they are probation.

    I doubt they’ve been pulled over 500 times in 10 years, but it may feel like it.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    You can kind of see at the beginning of the clip that it was DPD not CHP.

    I think it is important to note that this video while it’s a nice case study, is just one example of many where there have been people pulled over 9 or even more times and not cited and sometimes not even accused, they are just asked if they are from Sacramento, Oakland or if they are probation.

    I doubt they’ve been pulled over 500 times in 10 years, but it may feel like it.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    You can kind of see at the beginning of the clip that it was DPD not CHP.

    I think it is important to note that this video while it’s a nice case study, is just one example of many where there have been people pulled over 9 or even more times and not cited and sometimes not even accused, they are just asked if they are from Sacramento, Oakland or if they are probation.

    I doubt they’ve been pulled over 500 times in 10 years, but it may feel like it.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    You can kind of see at the beginning of the clip that it was DPD not CHP.

    I think it is important to note that this video while it’s a nice case study, is just one example of many where there have been people pulled over 9 or even more times and not cited and sometimes not even accused, they are just asked if they are from Sacramento, Oakland or if they are probation.

    I doubt they’ve been pulled over 500 times in 10 years, but it may feel like it.

  17. Doug Paul Davis

    By way of follow up, I had a very interesting conversation last night with a member of the public who spoke with a police officer.

    One thing that the Davis Police recognize is that the majority of the crime committed in Davis is from people from outside of the city and in generally comes in the form of property theft. The police also understand the key access points to the city and they basically watch those access points and look for anyone “who doesn’t belong.” And then they look for a second reason to pull them over and ask them questions–that could be a minor violation such as failure to use a signal or it could be an expired license plate, broken headlights.

    Part of this is good police work–understand where the crime is going to come from is very important. On the other hand, the people who don’t belong are often minorities who live in Davis and they end up pulled over 10 times in short periods of time.

    The key questions that are asked are things such as are you from Sacramento and Oakland, which may tell them they are gang members. They also ask if someone is on probation because that allows them to conduct a search without permission or a warrant.

    In the end, profiling is hard to prove. There are some aspects of good police work here, but the practice ends up angering many people who fall into the target group that the police believe may not belong. In the end, they are looking for reasons to pull over minorities and question them. It may or may not be an effective crime fighting technique, but it also serves to drive a wedge into the minority community.

  18. Doug Paul Davis

    By way of follow up, I had a very interesting conversation last night with a member of the public who spoke with a police officer.

    One thing that the Davis Police recognize is that the majority of the crime committed in Davis is from people from outside of the city and in generally comes in the form of property theft. The police also understand the key access points to the city and they basically watch those access points and look for anyone “who doesn’t belong.” And then they look for a second reason to pull them over and ask them questions–that could be a minor violation such as failure to use a signal or it could be an expired license plate, broken headlights.

    Part of this is good police work–understand where the crime is going to come from is very important. On the other hand, the people who don’t belong are often minorities who live in Davis and they end up pulled over 10 times in short periods of time.

    The key questions that are asked are things such as are you from Sacramento and Oakland, which may tell them they are gang members. They also ask if someone is on probation because that allows them to conduct a search without permission or a warrant.

    In the end, profiling is hard to prove. There are some aspects of good police work here, but the practice ends up angering many people who fall into the target group that the police believe may not belong. In the end, they are looking for reasons to pull over minorities and question them. It may or may not be an effective crime fighting technique, but it also serves to drive a wedge into the minority community.

  19. Doug Paul Davis

    By way of follow up, I had a very interesting conversation last night with a member of the public who spoke with a police officer.

    One thing that the Davis Police recognize is that the majority of the crime committed in Davis is from people from outside of the city and in generally comes in the form of property theft. The police also understand the key access points to the city and they basically watch those access points and look for anyone “who doesn’t belong.” And then they look for a second reason to pull them over and ask them questions–that could be a minor violation such as failure to use a signal or it could be an expired license plate, broken headlights.

    Part of this is good police work–understand where the crime is going to come from is very important. On the other hand, the people who don’t belong are often minorities who live in Davis and they end up pulled over 10 times in short periods of time.

    The key questions that are asked are things such as are you from Sacramento and Oakland, which may tell them they are gang members. They also ask if someone is on probation because that allows them to conduct a search without permission or a warrant.

    In the end, profiling is hard to prove. There are some aspects of good police work here, but the practice ends up angering many people who fall into the target group that the police believe may not belong. In the end, they are looking for reasons to pull over minorities and question them. It may or may not be an effective crime fighting technique, but it also serves to drive a wedge into the minority community.

  20. Doug Paul Davis

    By way of follow up, I had a very interesting conversation last night with a member of the public who spoke with a police officer.

    One thing that the Davis Police recognize is that the majority of the crime committed in Davis is from people from outside of the city and in generally comes in the form of property theft. The police also understand the key access points to the city and they basically watch those access points and look for anyone “who doesn’t belong.” And then they look for a second reason to pull them over and ask them questions–that could be a minor violation such as failure to use a signal or it could be an expired license plate, broken headlights.

    Part of this is good police work–understand where the crime is going to come from is very important. On the other hand, the people who don’t belong are often minorities who live in Davis and they end up pulled over 10 times in short periods of time.

    The key questions that are asked are things such as are you from Sacramento and Oakland, which may tell them they are gang members. They also ask if someone is on probation because that allows them to conduct a search without permission or a warrant.

    In the end, profiling is hard to prove. There are some aspects of good police work here, but the practice ends up angering many people who fall into the target group that the police believe may not belong. In the end, they are looking for reasons to pull over minorities and question them. It may or may not be an effective crime fighting technique, but it also serves to drive a wedge into the minority community.

  21. Anonymous

    Isn’t looking for “someone who does not belong” essentially the same thing as racial profiling. A Black man in a nice suit and in a nice car is pulled over because he “might be from Sacramento or Oakland”- that is weak. The DPD explanation sounds like an excuse for bad police behavior.

  22. Anonymous

    Isn’t looking for “someone who does not belong” essentially the same thing as racial profiling. A Black man in a nice suit and in a nice car is pulled over because he “might be from Sacramento or Oakland”- that is weak. The DPD explanation sounds like an excuse for bad police behavior.

  23. Anonymous

    Isn’t looking for “someone who does not belong” essentially the same thing as racial profiling. A Black man in a nice suit and in a nice car is pulled over because he “might be from Sacramento or Oakland”- that is weak. The DPD explanation sounds like an excuse for bad police behavior.

  24. Anonymous

    Isn’t looking for “someone who does not belong” essentially the same thing as racial profiling. A Black man in a nice suit and in a nice car is pulled over because he “might be from Sacramento or Oakland”- that is weak. The DPD explanation sounds like an excuse for bad police behavior.

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