San Diego Has Fallen Behind on Combating Police Racial Profiling

 

racial-profiling

In a story originaly published by Voice of San Diego, co-written by, Liam Dillon and Megan Burks, the San Diego Police Department has often failed to follow its own rules regarding the collection of racial data at traffic stops, saying the community isn’t concerned about racial profiling. A local black officers group, the NAACP and a city councilman disagree.

The San Diego Police Department and its chief, William Lansdowne, used to be national leaders in addressing concerns about racial profiling. Now they’re not.

More than a decade ago, San Diego police were among the first to use data to examine how frequently officers targeted minorities in traffic stops. Today, that policy has become the norm in big urban departments across the country. But in San Diego, the effort has largely fallen by the wayside. Officers here now track race in fewer than one out of every five stops and a sergeant in the department’s research and analysis division wasn’t aware that the requirement to gather the information still existed when we asked about it.

This spring, a federal judge ruled that two officers violated the Fourth Amendment rights of two black residents, Dante Harrell and Shannon Robinson, during a City Heights traffic stop in 2010. Harrell and Robinson’s lawsuit didn’t specifically allege racial profiling, but Harrell said he believed the stop happened because police look for reasons to pull over minorities in minority neighborhoods. The city agreed to settle the case last month for $450,000.

Lansdowne isn’t troubled by the decrease in the department’s data collection efforts. He and his top deputies said residents don’t believe racial profiling is a problem.“It hasn’t come up in years and years and years in interactions with the community,” said Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who’s in charge of the department’s neighborhood policing efforts.But those who monitor San Diego police don’t share that perspective. The head of the local Black Police Officers Association, the president of the local NAACP and a city councilman all said racial profiling happens in San Diego and they hear about it.“Everyone knows it exists,” said Lei-Chala Wilson, the local NAACP president.And city taxpayers recently had to foot the bill for an incident where police officers stopped young minorities for no reason.This spring, a federal judge ruled that two officers violated the Fourth Amendment rights of two black residents, Dante Harrell and Shannon Robinson, during a City Heights traffic stop in 2010. Harrell and Robinson’s lawsuit didn’t specifically allege racial profiling, but Harrell said he believed the stop happened because police look for reasons to pull over minorities in minority neighborhoods. The city agreed to settle the case last month for $450,000.

Photo credit:  Keith Walker, Lasting Impressions Studios

Lei-Chala Wilson, San Diego NAACP President-Photo credit: Keith Walker, Lasting Impressions Studios

 

To read  Voice of San Diego News story in its entirety click here.

 
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