A poll was released yesterday, conducted by Tulchin Research, showing 69 percent of likely California voters support AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, a state bill introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to combat racial and identity profiling by law enforcement.
The statewide poll, conducted in July for the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy, found that nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) in California believe black people are more likely to be discriminated against by police. This includes nearly 9 out of 10 black voters (89%) who believe the same.
Seventy-one percent of California voters believe police are most likely to discriminate against young black men. Similarly, voters view Latinos (58%) and young Latino men (61%) as groups that are more likely to be discriminated against. There is strong voter support (71%) for legislation aimed to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to law enforcement’s use of force reporting practices, such as AB 619 (Weber) and AB 71 (Rodriguez).
Nearly every voter (95%) reports having heard of the recent high-profile police shootings and misconduct cases in Ferguson, New York and Charleston, and most voters (80%) believe something like that could very well happen in California.
“The numbers speak for themselves. When it comes to AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, Californians across the board support this solution-based proposal to put us on the path to fair policing,” said Natasha Minsker, Director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy, in a statement Wednesday.
She added, “In the wake of events in Ferguson, New York, Charleston and Baltimore, we have been left heartbroken and shaken by the sometimes lethal impacts of racially biased policing. This year in California, over 100 people have died at the hands of police officers. Our leaders and elected officials should listen to California voters and act on sensible reforms like AB 953.”
An independent analysis of officer-involved killings found that California leads the nation in the number of deaths, with over 100 people killed so far this year. Additionally, many people have lived through experiences with biased policing and police misconduct. However, the state of California does not collect, analyze, or make available information about whom the police, stop, search or even shoot.
AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2014 was introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to identify and address problems with disparate policing as they pertain to police stops.
If approved, AB 953 would update California’s definition of racial and identity profiling to be in line with federal recommendations by including other demographic characteristics, such as gender and sexual orientation. It would also require that California law enforcement agencies uniformly collect and report data on stops, frisks, and other interactions with the communities they serve.
Finally, it would establish an advisory board to analyze stop data and develop recommendations to address problems with disparate policing where they exist.
According to the bill fact sheet, “In California, many people have been victims of the humiliating and frightening experience of identity profiling. A 2015 report by a police department in
California found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation,and that blacks and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of whites, respectively. However, those searches showed that blacks and Latinos were less likely to be arrested.
“In 2000, the CA legislature found that ‘racial profiling is a practice that presents a great danger to the fundamental principles of a democratic society,’ and declared that ‘it is abhorrent and cannot be tolerated.’ Subsequently, the Legislative Analyst’s Office found that California’s law on profiling is too vague and that law enforcement agencies have resisted following it.”
They claim, “AB 953 will improve public safety, protect the rights of all Californians, and advance police-community relations.”
On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed two key police reform bills. In all, nearly two dozen police reform proposals were introduced in the California legislature this year. However, AB 953 is one of the last few proposals standing, after the law enforcement lobby flexed its political muscle in Sacramento.
The survey by Tulchin Research found that “likely California voters overwhelmingly believe that police profile and discriminate based on race and would like to see steps taken to reduce this behavior.”
They found that voters are paying heavy attention to national events “concerning use of force and potential misconduct by police officers that have led to the deaths of several unarmed African American men around the country.” They found that “most voters in California fundamentally believe that police officers discriminate against communities of color.”
Across the state, nearly two-thirds of all likely voters (65%) believe blacks are more likely to be discriminated against by police. Those numbers vary by race, but a majority of all races polled believed it to be the case with nearly 9 out of 10 black voters (89%) who believe the same, 84 percent of Asian voters, 81 percent of Latino voters and 57 percent of white voters.
Voters see young black men as the group most likely to be discriminated against by police, as 71 percent of California voters believe police are more likely to discriminate against this group. Similarly, voters view Latinos (58%) and young Latino men (61%) as groups that are more likely to be discriminated against.
Conversely, most voters believe that whites and Asians are NOT discriminated against by police, as just 11 percent and 16 percent of California voters, respectively, believe these groups are more likely to be discriminated against by police.
The polling found, “Voters want to take concrete steps to address racial profiling and they want to start by having police collect more information during stops so the public has a better sense of the scope of the problem. The survey asked voters whether they would support or oppose requiring police to collect demographic information during police stops such as age, gender and race as well as about what happens during the stops in order to provide the public with more information.
“This core concept finds support from nearly 7 out of 10 voters (69%), including 88 percent of black voters, 79 percent of Latinos, 77 percent of Asians and 64 percent of whites. The proposal also finds broad bi-partisan support that includes over three quarters of Democrats (77%), 69 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans.”
The pollsters added, “We provided respondents with a description of this proposal, which includes having police collect basic information during stops, modernizing police training, and creating an advisory board that would work with law enforcement agencies to develop recommendations to stop profiling from occurring. Voters offer strong support for AB 953 as fully two-thirds (67%) support this proposal while just 19 percent of voters oppose it and 14 percent are undecided.”
In conclusion, “Our research finds that voters across the state have strong concerns about police behavior when it comes to interacting with people of color. Voters are particularly concerned about racial profiling and the use of force on the part of local law enforcement agencies, especially as it pertains to blacks and Latinos, and they want to see steps taken to change these practices.”
From July 10-14, 2015, Tulchin Research conducted a statewide survey in California among 900 likely November 2016 voters, including a statewide sample of 800 voters and an oversample of 100 African-American voters. The margin of error for the statewide base sample is +/- 3.46 percent.
—David M. Greenwald reporting