Public Safety Committee Hears Call for Police to Start Collecting Racial Profiling Data

Published : Thursday, May 18, 2017 | 5:53 AM

California State University Los Angeles Professor Dr. Lisa Graziano (left) and civil rights attorney Skip Hickambottom (right).

During Wednesday’s Public Safety Committee, local activist Skip Hickambottom called for the police to begin collecting data on racial profiling six years before local legislation mandates the department begins collecting that data.

“In 2023 this department is going to have the obligation to start collecting data on the demographics of the folks that are stopped and the reason for that stop,” Hickambottom said.

AB953 requires each state and local agency that employs police officers to to annually report to the attorney general data on all stops conducted by that agency’s peace officers for the preceding calendar year. The bill requires that the Pasadena Police Department issue its first such report by April 1, 2023.

The agencies are required to replace the time, date and location of the stop, the reason for the stop, the result of the encounter, and information regarding all arrests, warnings or citations issued during the stop.

Agencies will also be forced to report the age, ethnicity and gender of the person stopped. If the person or vehicle was searched information regarding the consent, or reason, for that search must also be provided.

Last year a survey conducted by California State University Los Angeles Professor Dr. Lisa Graziano found that only seven percent of white residents were searched in encounters with Pasadena police officers compared to 25 percent of all African Americans and Latinos.

Graziano made a presentation of her study, “Community Perceptions of Policing in Pasadena.” Graziano was originally scheduled to present her study to the Public Safety Committee last year, but there was not a quorum of the committee the night she was scheduled to attend.

“I think the reason that was adopted is because the legislature has found that racial profiling is a problem in California and wants to determine how bad that problem is and how to eradicate it,” Graziano said.

“It just seems to me that a progressive city like this would be willing to look at this before 2023. It could help with the relationship between African Americans and the police department,” she said.

According Graziano’s survey in Pasadena, 72 percent of African-Americans and 46 percent of Latinos surveyed said they believed police engaged in racial profiling. Sixty percent of the African Americans polled also believed the police stopped people for no reason.

Despite those numbers, 78 percent of the almost 1,200 people polled in Pasadena said they supported the police, far above the national approval average in most communities which hovers around 60 percent.

“A strong majority of 78 percent of residents demonstrated belief in the PPD, expressing confidence in the department’s ability to do its job well, make decisions in their best interests, and protect people’s rights,” according to Graziano’s report. That number far exceeds the national average of 60 percent, according to the report.”

As a result of the study Graziano recommended officers complete implicit bias training and that the city explore additional options for community outreach.

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