ACLU: San Diego Police and Sheriff’s Department data shows disparities in police practices among communities of color, people with disabilities

Black people and people with disabilities experienced higher rates of stops than whites, ACLU-commissioned report shows

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2019
Contact: Edward Sifuentes, ACLUF of San Diego & Imperial Counties, 619-501-3408, esifuentes@aclusandiego.org

SAN DIEGO — Yesterday, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU-SDIC) released a commissioned report analyzing records from the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department that suggest both agencies engaged in biased policing. Authored by data scientist and co-founder of Campaign Zero, Samuel Sinyangwe and commissioned by the ACLU-SDIC, the report’s data shows a different standard of policing occurs within the region for Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities.

“Campaign Zero evaluated the policing practices of the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department using data from police stops, searches, use of force and arrests,” said Sinyangwe. “Our analysis of the data suggests that there are disparities in the way San Diegans are policed. When we examined post-stop outcomes by race, we found substantial racial disparities among whom the police would search, arrest and use force. Based on our findings, we recommend that San Diego law enforcement adopt a variety of policy changes to limit contact with the police and restrict how and when police stop, search and use force in communities.”

Sinyangwe reviewed records obtained through public records requests, including data collected by the departments under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 (RIPA). This data included over 70,000 stops by San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies and over 150,000 stops by San Diego Police officers over a 12-month period from 2018 to 2019.

According to the analysis of the data, Black people were more likely than white people to be stopped in 85 percent of police beats throughout the city and in every area of the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. Stop data for Sheriff’s deputies show Black people were 130 percent more likely to be stopped than white people. Once stopped, Black and Latino people were also more likely than white people to be searched, arrested and to have force used against them.

Sheriff’s deputies were also more likely to arrest or search people perceived to be LGBTQ and gender non-conforming, despite data showing these stops were less likely to result in finding contraband. People with perceived mental disabilities also faced more severe disparities during San Diego Sheriff’s deputies stops than people without perceived disabilities. Deputies were 112 percent more likely to search people with mental disabilities during a stop and more likely to arrest or use force against them.

“Just and fair policing is necessary to strengthen transparency, accountability and trust in law enforcement,” said David Trujillo, advocacy director for ACLU-SDIC. “Unfortunately, this report shows that both the San Diego Police and County Sheriff’s Departments are failing our community. We need law enforcement leaders and elected officials to urgently implement the recommendations in this report and ensure our values of justice and fairness define how officers treat people. We ask community members to call on law enforcement leaders, Mayor Faulconer, their city council member and county board supervisor to take action now.”

In addition to addressing bias, the report recommends banning or severely restricting searches resulting from traffic violations and “consent” searches; reforming use of force guidelines to prioritize de-escalation tactics; banning the use of chokeholds and firing at moving vehicles; and strengthening the power of community oversight boards.

A copy of the report, Evaluating Policing in San Diego, can be found here: www.policescorecard.org/sandiego.

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