New State Analysis Shows Black Drivers Stopped by Police More Frequently

(From Press Release)- The California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (Board) today announced the release of the third annual report required under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 (RIPA). The report contains an analysis of the approximately 1.8 million stops conducted by California’s eight largest law enforcement agencies during the second half of 2018. The report also examines civilian complaint data and provides recommendations law enforcement can utilize to enhance their policies, procedures, and trainings on topics that intersect with bias and racial and identity profiling. In addition to the Board’s new report, the California Department of Justice is announcing the launch of a new online dashboard to give researchers, legislators, journalists, and all members of the public greater access to RIPA data.

“For the first time ever, Californians have comprehensive racial and identity data on each stop and search conducted by police officers at the largest law enforcement agencies in the state,” said Co-Chair of the Board and Associate Director of Litigation and Policy at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles Sahar Durali. “This is a critical first step in the fight to end racial profiling. The findings of this data as laid out in the 2020 Board report highlight the need for the policy recommendations of the Board. We encourage law enforcement agencies to work with their communities and utilize the RIPA data to make meaningful changes to their policies, practices, and operations. The Board looks forward to partnering with agencies, community members, and advocacy groups in those efforts.”

“As co-chair to the Board, I would like to thank California Department of Justice staff and my fellow board members for their professionalism throughout the past year,” said Co-Chair of the Board and Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson. “Many continually express support and appreciation for the difficult job the men and women of California law enforcement do every day. The report is just the beginning of information that will allow even greater transparency for law enforcement and our communities – allowing us to grow together working on local and statewide areas of concern. And finally, to the men and women who have embraced the challenges of the data collection and reporting: we thank you. Your commitment is appreciated.”

“Good data is a critical component of making good policies,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The California Department of Justice’s new online dashboard will help make important criminal justice information more accessible to everyone in California. Here at the California Department of Justice, we’re committed to doing our part to increase transparency and accountability to help strengthen trust between law enforcement and communities across our state.”

The information collected under RIPA includes data on peace officers’ perceptions of the demographics of stopped individuals. The purpose of collecting information on officer perceptions is to attempt to systematically document and analyze stops and searches to determine whether disparities can be found across demographics. The perceived demographic information collected includes a number of characteristics such as race or ethnicity, gender, age, disability status, English fluency, and LGBT identity. There are a number of methodologies to analyze stop data that can help determine if bias may exist, and the report relies on several well-established methods as reference points. However, there are important limitations and caveats for each methodology that should be kept in mind when interpreting the data. The report goes into further detail on many of those considerations. Some of the key findings from the first round of RIPA data include:

  • Reason for Stop: Across all racial and ethnic groups, the most common reason peace officers reported for initiating a stop was a traffic violation (84.4%) and the next most common reason was reasonable suspicion of criminal activity (11.4%). People who were perceived as Black had the highest proportion of stops for reasonable suspicion while those who were perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian had the lowest.
    • Perceived as Black: 19.5%
    • Perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian: 3.6%
  • Weighted Residential Population Compared to Stop Data: Using data from the 2017 American Community Survey, people who were perceived as Black were overrepresented in the stop data and people perceived as Asian were underrepresented as compared to population estimates.
    • Perceived as Black: +8.8%
    • Perceived as Asian: -6.4%
  • Veil of Darkness Analysis: This method compares the proportion of individuals stopped during daylight hours across racial or ethnic groups. Having a higher proportion of stops occur in daylight compared to people perceived as White may indicate bias. People perceived as Pacific Islander or Native American had the highest proportion of their stops in daylight compared to those perceived as White, whereas people perceived as Black or Middle Eastern or South Asian had the lowest.
    • Perceived as Pacific Islander: +7%
    • Perceived as Native American: +4.5%
    • Perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian: -0.05%
    • Perceived as Black: -1.2%
  • Search Rates: Search rates refer to the proportion of stops that resulted in a search. People who were perceived as Black were searched at 2.9 times the rate of people perceived as White. The proportion of stops that resulted in a search was highest for people who were perceived as Black and lowest for people who were perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian.
    • Perceived as Black: 18.7%
    • Perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian: 2.8%
  • Search Yield Rates: Search yield rate refers to the proportion of individuals that officers searched who were found to be in possession of contraband or evidence. All racial or ethnic groups of color had lower yield rates of contraband or evidence than White individuals, meaning that officer searches of these groups tended to be less successful at finding contraband or evidence. The proportion of searched individuals that officers found to be in possession of contraband or evidence was highest for people who were perceived as White and lowest for people who were perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian.
    • Perceived as White: 24.3%
    • Perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian: 18.8%

For more on the first round of RIPA data, members of the public are encouraged to review the new online dashboard available here. The dashboard provides a unique look at the data and gives the public unprecedented access to information on stops and searches conducted by California’s eight largest law enforcement agencies collected from July 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. For more on the information contained in the 2020 Board report, members of the public are encouraged to review the fact sheet and supplemental technical report. The technical report contains tabulated summaries of the data.

RIPA requires California law enforcement agencies to collect and maintain demographic data on all stops and searches. As part of the 2015 law, the Board was formed in July 2016 to analyze the data, develop policy, and make recommendations through yearly public reports. By April 2023, all agencies that employ peace officers in California will be required to submit RIPA data to the California Department of Justice. The California Legislature charged the Board with an ambitious purpose – to eliminate racial and identity profiling and improve diversity and racial and identity sensitivity in law enforcement. The Board unites a diverse group of individuals from across different sectors – law enforcement, civil and human rights organizations, community groups, and academia – to work toward improving law enforcement-community relations in California through collaboration, transparency, and accountability.

The eight law enforcement agencies included in the first round of data collection are the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and San Francisco Police Department.

A copy of the report is available here. A fact sheet on the 2020 RIPA report is available here. A copy of the supplemental technical report is available here. More information about the Board is available here.

The RIPA data online dashboard is available on the California Department of Justice website here.


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4 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    People who were perceived as Black were searched at 2.9 times the rate of people perceived as White.

    In profiling, perception IS reality.

    Taking that another step . . . funny how the far-left progressive cultural-appropriation police profile, while condemning ‘profiling’.

    Case in point:  a far-left cultural-appropriation progressive wouldn’t buy from what they perceived as a white person with dreadlocks selling from a booth on campus.  I asked if they had asked the person in the booth their story.  They had not.

    I have a friend who is usually perceived as white who has a dreadlocked-‘fro’.  I asked him if any cultural appropriation police had ever approached him.  He said, ‘Alan, I got the 23&me thing, and I’m 40% West African!”.  I apologized and said I would think most people would consider him white.

    He answered, wide-eyed:  “Yeah, Huh?!!!!”

    He continued (paraphrasing here):  “I don’t know what I should do sometimes.  Should my white-side shave off the fro, or should my black side get on my white side’s case for allowing the white side to have dreadlocks?”  (He laughed).  “Regardless, this is my hair!!!!!”

    Was the person in the booth also part African?  Or Jewish?  Or Nordic?  Or . . . . but no, the profiling cultural appropriation activist didn’t even care to ask — only to freak out and melt over their perception that they saw a ‘white’ person who dared have dreadlocks.

  2. Bill Marshall

    Well, just to add, years ago there was an armed robbery @YFCU when it was in the Oakshade Center… hours later my son and friend, both white, and one ‘nordic’ looking were pulled over and heavily questioned about the robbery… teenagers…  problem was, the reports from the CU folk (originally) was that it was two young, black males.  All sorts of “profiling”… true, they (son and friend) were young males.

    I believe the officer no longer works for Davis PD… he had a history of ‘profiling’ young white males, although the officer was a white male himself.  Go figure.

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