Analysis: City Releases DPD Stop Data from 2019, Hints at Disproportionate Policing

For years, we have heard complaints from communities of color about disproportionate policing in the city of Davis by the Davis Police Department.  Newly released data show that 9 percent of traffic stops involved Blacks, while 21 percent involved Latinos—hinting at disproportionate policing.

The city of Davis released the long-awaited traffic stop data for the Davis Police Department.  The Vanguard had requested traffic stop data back in August 2019.  Under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA), AB 953, the city was required to begin collecting the data starting in July 2018, and agencies like Davis are not required to submit data until April 2023—the city has released theirs early, becoming one of the few agencies of its size to collect stop data in California.

The main finding is that nearly half of the stops involve White people, 21 percent Latino, 11.7 percent Asian, 9.3 percent Black, 5.3 percent Middle Eastern, and 0.1 percent Native American.

Standardizing these numbers is tricky.  Some have presented the possibility that people from out of town are getting pulled over, skewing the data.

Nevertheless, we look at two key population demographics.

In the city of Davis, Whites are 57 percent of the population in the most recently available data, with 21.3 percent Asian, 12.9 Latino, 2.1 percent black.

At UC Davis, the diversity is great—Asians are the largest population block at 28.4 percent, then 25 percent White, 21.4 percent Latino, and another 15.7 percent are International, and just 2 percent are Black.

From these data, it would appear that Blacks are disproportionately pulled over by police in Davis.  Hispanics would seem to be disproportionately policed in Davis as well, but given their population numbers at the university, that is more difficult to assess.  Whites would appear to be underrepresented in the traffic stop data, with Asians clearly far below their numbers.

It is hard to make a lot of sense of the reason for stop data.  Looking at reasonable suspicion versus traffic violations may not warrant much.  For example, pretext stops for things like not signaling or having tail lights out would fall under traffic violations, even if the traffic violation is really a pretext.

The one we may want to look further into is the Native American group with a low rate of traffic violations and a high rate of “other.”  However, that is based on just eight stops.  Asian drivers, on the other hand, are almost exclusively getting pulled over for traffic violations.

Overall, about 18 percent of stops are leading to a search.  Blacks only have a slightly higher rate of searches than Whites, Hispanics are being searched more than average, while Asians are rarely being searched.

Assessing Native Americans is a bit tricky because they only have eight stops.

The national story on stops is that Blacks get stopped more frequently and searched more frequently than whites, but those searches yield a lower hit rate.  While we do see a disproportionate stop rate, we don’t see a disproportionate search rate, but Black searches do yield less contraband than Whites, Hispanics and Asians.

Finally, there is the arrest and citation rate by ethnicity.

There are some interesting things here.  First, when Asians and Middle Easterners are getting stopped, it is primarily for traffic violations—we can see that in the high citation rate and the low arrest rate.

Whites are getting citations just over one in every five times.  Hispanics about 22 percent of the time. Blacks, among the major groups, are getting the lowest citation rate—but not by a huge percentage.  A lot of the complaints we hear are they get pulled over a lot but don’t get a citation.  We see a bit of that here.

On the other hand, the arrest data is almost reversed.  Blacks are the most likely to get arrested at 15.7 percent, followed by Whites at 14.9 percent and Hispanics at 14.5 percent.  On the other hand, Asians and Middle Easterners are not getting arrested—2.8 and 2.4 percent respectively.


It does appear that Blacks and Hispanics are getting pulled over disproportionately.  While it is tricky to get a precise read, Blacks are getting pulled over more than 4 times their share of the population.

However, while there are some differences among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics once the stop occurs, those differences are not huge.  Blacks are slightly less likely than Whites (14%) to get a citation, about as likely to be searched, but much less likely (35%) for the police to find something in the search.  But at the same time, it is somewhat more likely (5%) that a stop will lead to an arrest of a Black person than a White person.

The bigger difference is with Asians and Middle Easterners—they are much more likely to be stopped for a traffic violation but less likely to be stopped overall.  They are much more likely to receive a citation when stopped and much less likely to have the stop result in an arrest.

—David M. Greenwald 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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  1. PhilColeman

    A key element is missing, one that will give an even more thorough analysis of DPD patrol behaviors in the role of self-initiated traffic stops.

    What is the ethnic breakdown of the enforcers?

    The Davis Police Department is diverse, let’s examine what patterns are evident by gender and ethnicity of the officer with traffic stop circumstances. A database exists for the gender and professed ethnicity of every sworn officer. Merge those two computerized programs.

    Perhaps there is a gender or ethnic bias within the DPD ranks to initiate contact for a particular sub-set. Conversely, if an Asian female officer never stopped a suspected male Hispanic violator (illustration only) that could be analyzed as well.


  2. Keith Olsen

    Whites are getting citations just over one in every five times.  Hispanics about 22 percent of the time. Blacks, among the major groups, are getting the lowest citation rate—but not by a huge percentage.  

    What the heck?  Whites are getting cited at a higher rate than blacks?  Maybe that should be looked into?

    A lot of the complaints we hear are they get pulled over a lot but don’t get a citation.  We see a bit of that here.

    Well maybe to stop the complaints the DPD should even that up and give out more citations?


  3. Alan Miller

    I much believe that black people get pulled over a lot more than other people.  Even the more ‘conservative’ (for lack of a better word) black people I know — those that don’t want the police ‘defunded’ for example — talk of how often they are pulled over, often seemingly without reason.  While I don’t buy all the conclusions or reasonings on these stats, this one is so far out-of-proportion both statistically and anecdotally that it cannot be denied.

  4. Chris Griffith

    I’m curious if a cop pulls me over gives me a ticket and he looks at me and asks me what race I am and I tell him I’m black and he says to me boy you’re about as white as Tobies goat and I tell him I self-identify as a black man how would I appear in this so-called statistical data that you’re analyzing black or white.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Yet you admit that 71% were traffic violations… is your issue with the ‘stops’ or the citations/arrests?  Or all of the above?  If there are traffic violations, should PD ONLY pull over ‘whites’?  Only cite whites?

          Gets to Phil’s questions and comments… (and have heard that some officers ‘of color’ are more likely to cite those ‘of color’ because they don’t want to be accused of ‘color privilege’… )… over-compensating for the perception that white cops give white offenders a “pass”… a perception you are feeding…

          And, I say again, ‘white’ boys have been pulled over and cited by ‘white’ PD folk for no reason, except harassment… once, on the ‘pretext’ of an armed robbery, when those robbed clearly identified both suspects as “Black”… one of those teenagers was my youngest son…

          Answers to Phil’s points might well shed much light… if those answers are made available… which I sorta’ doubt… may not be available, and may expose “inconvenient truths”… which probably would not get reported out here.

          Phil made good points… we are friendly, have interacted @ work, and I respect him.  His posts should be well considered…


        2. David Greenwald

          Who are you addressing?

          “Yet you admit that 71% were traffic violations…”

          That’s from the data, not sure why that constitutes an admission.

          Consider this – Blacks are stopped 68% for supposed moving violations and yet only received citations 18.6%, that seems like an extremely low percentage.

  5. Chris Griffith

    I found everything seems to be raced related when it comes to the police why not go to the department of social services and unemployment and review their statistical data maybe you can find some race-related issues over there to investigate if you look at dad a good enough you can find something that you want to play with . 😊

  6. Edgar Wai

    Is there any traffic bad spot in or around Davis?

    Maybe someone could tally traffic violators and their racial classifications (by watching, without stopping them). That would give a baseline.

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