SF Police Commission Votes to Curb Racially-Biased Police Stops – SFPD Has 90 Days to Implement

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By The Vanguard Staff

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Police Commission voted this week to curb the SF Police Dept’s use of racially-biased pretext stops, according to the Coalition to End Biased Stops, which called the action “historic.”

The Coalition, that includes more than 110 traffic safety and civil rights groups, issued a statement noting they “pushed for the Commission to address the racial disparities in police stops.”

The vote, added the Coalition, came after “unprecedented public input…that lasted more than a year and after nearly a year of bargaining with the Police Officer’s Association.”

The Commission, said the Coalition, has “directed SFPD to implement this policy within 90 days.”

The Coalition argued, in its statement, “Police often use certain vehicle, pedestrian, and traffic codes as a ‘pretext’ to look for evidence of other unrelated crimes without legal justification. Police disproportionately use such stops against Black and brown people, who are also more likely to suffer from police use of force during these interactions.”

SFPD’s analysis, said proponents of the new rule, noted, “officers stopped Black individuals at six times the rate of white individuals, searched Black individuals at more than 10 times the rate of white individuals, and used force on Black individuals at more than twenty-one times the rate of white individuals.

“While voting to enact this policy limiting racially-biased stops is an important step, we recognize that more work needs to be done to heal the harms inflicted on communities of color due to decades of over-policing and underinvestment,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju.

Raju added, “My office looks forward to participating in the rollout of this pretext policy by informing the public of their rights. The fight for racial justice continues.”

Senior Government Relations Coordinator for Secure Justice Sameena Usman said, “The vote to restrict pretextual stops was essential, given the evident patterns of SFPD officers disproportionately stopping, searching and using force against Black individuals, far exceeding rates for white individuals. We remain committed to fostering a society where everyone, irrespective of their background, can move freely without fear of unwarranted stops of profiling.”

“The Police Commission’s vote to restrict pretext stops is an important step towards reducing racist policing tactics where police officers disproportionately stop and search Black and Brown people under the guise of traffic enforcement,” noted Yoel Haile, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the ACLU of Northern California. 

Haile added, “Now we will work to make sure SFPD implements the policy to prevent unnecessary encounters between police officers and San Francisco residents that all too often escalate and end in tragedy.”

“I applaud the courage of the independent Police Commissioners who put politics aside and voted to protect communities of color in San Francisco during this important month that we celebrate Black history,” said Deputy Public Defender Brian Cox, Director of the San Francisco Public Defender Integrity Unit. 

Cox added, “These modest but important changes will help turn the tide on the unacceptable racial disparities in police stops and spare countless individuals and families the trauma of unlawful searches, needless detentions, and police violence.”

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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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