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California Police Are More Likely to Stop and Search Black Teens

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California law enforcement officers searched teens thought to be black by officers nearly six times more often than teens thought to be white during vehicle and pedestrian stops in 2021, according to a state report released Tuesday.

The annual report of the California Advisory Board on Racial Profiling and Identity — part of a law originally enacted in 2018 — is one of several reforms the state has made in recent years amid increased attention to police brutality and racial injustice across the country.

The council report includes data on vehicle and pedestrian stops by 58 law enforcement agencies in 2021. This data includes what officers perceive as the race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status of the people they pull over so the state can better identify and analyze police bias.

58 agencies, including 23 of the state’s largest departments, combined to make more than 3.1 million vehicle and pedestrian stops in 2021. By April, all of California’s more than 500 law enforcement agencies must submit their data.

The data includes how officers perceive a person’s race or gender, even if this is different from how the person identifies, because the officer’s perception is what causes the bias. The council’s work informs agencies, the state police department’s training board, and state legislators as they change policy and seek to reduce racial disparity and bias in policing.

More than 42% of the 3.1 million stops made by these agencies in 2021 were perceived as Hispanic or Latino, according to the report. Over 30% were considered white and 15% were considered black.

However, statewide, the 2021 census estimates that blacks or African Americans made up just 6.5% of California’s population, while whites made up about 35%. That year, Hispanics or Latinos made up approximately 40% of the state’s population.

“The data shows that racial and identity differences persist from year to year,” the report says. “The Council remains committed to analyzing and identifying these inconsistencies to force evidence-based strategies to reform policing and eliminate racial and identity profiling in California.”

For example: Police handcuffed, searched, or detained—either on the side of the road or in a squad car—persons they believed to be black youths between the ages of 15 and 17 during a higher percentage of traffic stops than any other combination of perceived race or ethnicity and age. groups.

The report said law enforcement also searched people thought to be black at 2.2 times the rate of people thought to be white. And the police were more than twice as likely to use force against people they thought were black compared to people they thought were white.

However, law enforcement officials reported that they were more likely to take no action after apprehending people they believed to be black, compared to other racial and ethnic groups, “indicating that the blacks who were detained were not involved in criminal activities” — says in the report.

“Based on the study, the Council believes that public health officials and policy makers should treat racial and personality profiling and adverse police action as serious public health issues,” the report said. “It is critical to recognize that interactions with the police can negatively impact the mental and physical health of Blacks, Hispanics/Latino(x), Indigenous Peoples, and people of color.”

This year’s report includes data from 40 more agencies than the 2020 report, meaning it analyzed an additional 246,000 stops. Of the 18 agencies that collected data for both years, 13 made fewer stops in 2021. The report says the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected those numbers.

The 2021 findings were consistent with the council’s previous reports, which also showed racial and identical law enforcement profiling with traffic stops.

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