Tanu Henry, Magaly Muñoz and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media
A California Department of Justice (DOJ) report released last week states that African Americans in California are stopped by law enforcement officers 132% more than expected, based on a comparison of stop data and residential population.
The findings were included in the DOJ’s Race and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board’s seventh annual report. The report analyzes millions of vehicle and pedestrian stops conducted in 2022 by 560 law enforcement agencies in the state.
Established in 2016 as a result of Assembly Bill (AB) 953 written by former Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), RIPA aims to eliminate racial and identity profiling and foster diversity and racial and identity sensitivity within law enforcement.
The 223-page report features the board’s view of pretextual stops where the stops result in resisting arrest charges, looks at the impact police unions have on law enforcement accountability and protocols for law enforcement training on racial and identity profiling, and examines youth interactions with police both in and out of schools.
Black individuals made up 12.5% of stopped people analyzed in the report, with Hispanic/Latinos making up about 43% and Whites making up 32.5% of people.
In a statement released Wednesday, Attorney General Rob Bonta commented on the guidance that RIPA has given to the state in the report.
“The annual collection of the RIPA stop data is making California communities safer by directing thoughtful and reflective reform,” said Bonta.
But not everyone agrees that the data presented by RIPA is accurate or informative.
The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), an organization that represents 80,000 public safety members and over 950 associations, said the report “does not capture enough information for the Board to even satisfy California’s own legal standard for determining racial profiling.”
PORAC enlisted the help of Texas State University professor Dr. Brian Withrow to examine the data from the report which he found “inadequate in many ways.”
“The best data sets are those that recognize the complexities associated with an issue and provide robust qualitative information. However, the data the RIPA Board collects and analyzes — despite the breadth of its reach — is woefully inadequate as a measure of potential racial profiling in routine operations,” Withrow said in a statement.
Withrow recommended that other factors such as age, gender, and context of the communities where officers are assigned should all be taken into consideration along with race. He proposed that members of the RIPA Board sit down with police officers, one-on-one, to better understand why they might make a stop and how they proceed once they do.