California ‘Racial’ and ‘Identity Profiling’ Report Shows Little New – Depends on Color of Skin of Those Arrested

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By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (Board), under the purview the state Attorney General, released its seventh annual report this past week, “examining additional ways to improve law enforcement and community interactions and reduce racial and identity profiling.”

It appears from the data there wasn’t much new in how Californians are treated – it depended on the color of their skin. 

The report is 223 pages long, and a rough, long read. There are some pretty graphs and charts, and solid data:

The report analyzed stop data reported on more than 4.5 million stops by 535 California law enforcement agencies from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, and examined youth interactions with law enforcement, both within and outside of schools.

The report also said it “explore(d)” the “effect police unions may have on law enforcement accountability and protocols and guidelines for law enforcement training on racial and identity profiling.” 

The report noted it also continued the Board’s “examination of pretextual stops, analyzing the results of stops where field interview cards are completed and where the stops result in resisting arrest charges.”

The report said “Black individuals were stopped 131.5 percent more frequently than expected, given their relative proportion of the California population, using a comparison of stop data and residential population data. Overall those stopped were Hispanic/Latine(x) (42.9 percent), White (32.5 percent), or Black (12.5 percent).

Drivers aged 25 and 34 accounted for the largest proportion of individuals stopped within any age group (32.1 percent), while individuals stopped were perceived to be cisgender male (70.9 percent) or cisgender female (28.7 percent). 

The report noted the “most common reason reported for stops across all racial and ethnic groups was a traffic violation (82.1 percent), followed by reasonable suspicion that the person was engaged in criminal activity (14.2 percent). 

“Individuals perceived to be Native American had the highest proportion of stops reported for reasonable suspicion (20.3 percent) and the lowest proportion of stops reported for traffic violations (71.3 percent).”

 The report revealed “All racial or ethnic groups of color were searched at higher rates than individuals perceived to be White, except for individuals perceived as Asian, Middle Eastern/South Asian, and Pacific Islander. Individuals perceived to be Native American had the highest rate of being searched (22.4 percent), while individuals perceived to be Middle Eastern/South Asian were searched at the lowest rate (4.2 percent). Individuals perceived to be White were searched 12.4 percent of the time.”

 The report said those “perceived to be Native American had the highest rate of being handcuffed (17.8 percent) among all racial and ethnic groups. Individuals perceived to be Black had the highest rates of being detained curbside or in a patrol car (20.2 percent) and ordered to exit a vehicle (7.1 percent). Individuals perceived to be Middle Eastern/South Asian had the lowest reported rate for each of these actions (ranging from 1.6 percent to 5.4 percent).”

“This report continues to build on the Board’s prior discussion, analysis, and recommendations regarding pretext stops and searches. First, the Board examines the effectiveness of two different policy approaches to pretext stops adopted by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the state of Virginia,” the report explained.

It added, “The new LAPD policy allows officers to make traffic stops only if the violation significantly interferes with public safety or if they have information to suspect the person has committed a serious crime (i.e., a crime with potential for great bodily injury or death). 

“The Virginia policy, by contrast, establishes what is known as a primary and secondary traffic enforcement system, where an officer can only stop someone for a primary public safety violation and not solely for a defined secondary violation, such as an expired registration.”

The report said initial studies show these new policies resulted in an “overall reduction in stops and searches. LAPD data indicate an overall reduction in stops and searches, a slight increase in discovery rates, and a slight decrease in disparities of persons stopped who were perceived to be Black.”

And the data on LAPD stops indicate “the number of traffic violation stops for common equipment violations dramatically decreased after the LAPD pretext policy was implemented (60.2 percent reduction in total stops for equipment violations between 2022 and 2021 comparison periods).”

The Board noted it recommend “officers should be required to inform the individuals subject to the field interview that they do not have to respond to questions and are free to leave. Additionally, officers should be required to: Inform individuals that providing a physical form of identification is voluntary;  Not use a person’s failure to stop, answer questions, decision to end the encounter, or attempt or decision to walk away to establish reasonable suspicion for initial stop or detention, search, citation, or arrest of the person if an officer is engaged in, or attempting to engage in, a field interview.”

The Board also said agencies should “[c]onsider prohibiting law enforcement agencies from creating criminal databases that are not tied to information about an arrest or conviction and ban the collection of information and entries into any agency databases designed to track criminal information if the entry is collected from a stop for community caretaking or when a person might be experiencing a mental health crisis.”

 The Board said it took particular interest in “resisting arrest stops…specifically at misdemeanor resisting arrest charges where there is no alleged injury charged as a part of the crime and the sole charge is resisting arrest.

“Individuals perceived as Black had the highest per capita rate of stops that resulted in a sole charge of resisting arrest (32.7 stops per 100,000 residents, 3.3 times the statewide average). Individuals perceived as Black accounted for 19.2 percent of all stops that resulted in a sole charge of resisting arrest, while accounting for only 5.4 percent of the California residential population.”

The data also show people perceived as Native American had the “highest percentage of stops that resulted in a sole resisting arrest charge among perceived racial or ethnic groups (0.22 percent, 2.8 times the state average). Other racial or ethnic groups with above average percentages of stops resulting in sole resisting arrest charges include individuals perceived as Black (0.12 percent of stops), Multiracial (1 percent), Pacific Islander (0.09 percent) and Hispanic/Latine(x) (0.08 percent).”

Based on the RIPA data and “review of the impacts of evolving district attorneys’ policies, the Board makes several recommendations…adopt internal policies that prohibit district attorneys from filing and law enforcement agencies from submitting to the district attorney’s office for review misdemeanor criminal filings on standalone resisting arrest charges if it is the sole charge listed at the time of arrest and is not accompanied by other citable offenses unless extraordinary circumstances exist, such as an identifiable, continuing threat to another individual or another circumstance of similar gravity.

The Board said it recommended “policies to require officers to notify supervisors prior to making an arrest for resisting arrest and have supervisors review any case where resisting arrest is alleged in a report, district attorneys to review body-worn camera footage in any case that involves a resisting arrest allegation prior to filing charges (and adopt) internal policies that eliminate or severely limit arrests and charges filed for resisting arrest during consensual encounters unless extraordinary circumstances exist.”

The report also noted, “For nine of the ten officer assignment types, the highest per-resident stop rate was for individuals perceived as Black, followed by individuals perceived as Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latine(x),” and ‘Gang Enforcement’ had the highest percentages of all stop actions.”

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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