Author: PoliceOne Members
By PoliceOne Staff
SAN DIEGO — A legally-mandated data collection effort intended to track bias and racial profiling has California police officers recording subjective data during stops without asking the person they’ve stopped for the information.
Under Assembly Bill 953, police have been collecting data since July 2018 that is intended to help understand and reduce racial profiling and other types of bias, The San Diego Union Tribune reports.
Officers must record data including age, gender and sexual orientation during their interactions with the public, but, by design, they aren’t allowed to ask the person they’re interacting with for the information.
“We’re looking for facts but the facts we’re looking for is the officer’s perception and the circumstances surrounding the stop and the outcome of it,” Joe Kocurek, a spokesman for the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, said. “The perception precedes the action of stopping a person.”
Officers aren’t allowed to ask people questions to gather the information and they can’t use the person’s driver’s license or other forms of identification to collect the data.
“Officers must document their perceptions when they are formed and use their best judgment,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said in a training video released by the department.
Law enforcement organizations have expressed concerns about the new law, arguing that it essentially forces officers to profile people and discourages minor stops due to the amount of time officers will have to spend inputting data.
The SDPD, who was one of the first departments to implement the new law, has taken steps to cut down the time officers input data by using a custom electronic data-collection tool. According to the department, a small test group of officers completed the form in about three minutes.