Racial and Gender Disparities in ‘21 California Police Stops Report: Black People Stopped at Higher Rate, ‘Hispanics’ Stopped More Often

A California Highway Patrol cruiser at the State Capitol on June 11, 2021. (Robert J Hansen)

By Cheyenne Galloway 

BERKELY, CA – Steven Raphael, a co-author of “By the Numbers,” produced by the California Policy Lab, said the findings released this month on 2021 police stops and gender disparities are part of a two-part series.

“By the Numbers” first part examined the substantial decline in California’s incarceration rate for jail and prison during COVID-19.  

The second part of the report, “By the Numbers,” details “racial and gender disparities in police stops,” pulling from roughly 3.2 million police stops conducted in California in 2021 and reported in the Racial Identity and Profiling Act (RIPA): Racial and Gender Disparities in Police Stops: What Does the 2021 Racial Identity and Profiling Act Data Tell Us?

This section of the issue found several critical results on police stop disparities, which the report defines and California Policy Lab summarizes: 

“Black people are stopped at a rate that is 2.5 times their representation among the resident population of the state. The similar figure for Hispanic people is 1.2 times. Black people account for 15 percent of all stops even though they comprise only six percent of the population of California, while Hispanic people account for 42 percent of all stops and 36 percent of the state population,” according to the report.

Another finding of the report noted local police department stops display higher levels of racial disparities compared to stops done by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), with local police departments almost doubling the rate of the CHP.

And, the report found, during traffic stops, Black men were found to be the most frequently searched, detained and forced out of their vehicles, attributed mainly to traffic stops made by local law enforcement rather than the CHP.

However, according to the key findings outlined by the California Policy Lab, “CHP stops result in higher citation rates for Asian and Hispanic people as compared to other racial groups, though the intergroup differences for CHP stops are small.” 

Nonetheless, the report findings noted a small share of traffic violations by local police departments and CHP result in a ticket, and generally end in a warning or, at most, a citation, with these rates being similar among ethnic and racial groups.  

The California Policy Lab translates research insights into government impact, as an independent, nonpartisan research institute at the University of California with sites at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses.

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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