SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Traffic and pedestrian stops by California law enforcement declined significantly in 2020 from the previous year, but black and transgender people were still more likely to be searched than white or cisgender people, according to a state report released on Friday.
the Annual Report by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Committee collected data on arrests made by officers from 18 law enforcement agencies. The data includes what officers perceive as the race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status of the people they control so the state can better identify and analyze biases in policing.
Collectively, these agencies arrested 2.9 million people in 2020. That’s 26.5% fewer stops than in 2019, when three fewer agencies reported data. Officials blamed the decline on the pandemic, which has kept many people at home and disrupted life in the country’s most populous state.
The report did not include data on the number of fewer stoppages for different racial or gender groups. But its authors cited news articles and national data showing that the decrease in police checks during the pandemic was more important for whites than for blacks.
The new report analyzing the 2020 judgments is the council’s fifth, and it is consistent with previous reports that show blacks are searched 2.4 times more than whites and disproportionately more than other racial and ethnic groups. He also found that people perceived to be transgender women were 2.5 times more likely to be searched than women who appear to be cisgender.
The data includes how agents perceive an individual’s race or gender, although this differs from how the person identifies because the agent’s perception is what drives prejudice.
The state’s largest law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, provided data for the report. But CHP data was not included in the section of the report analyzing stops based on gender identity due to a reporting error.
All agencies are to begin reporting data in 2023. The council’s work informs agencies, the state police bureau’s training council, and state lawmakers as they change policies and seek to reduce racial disparities and prejudices in policing.
“The data in this report will be used by our profession to assess our practices as we continue to strive to deliver policing services that meet the service expectations of our communities,” Chief David Swing, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors and former president of the California Association of Police Chiefs, said in a statement.
The Fresno Police Department saw the largest drop in the total number of stops – 72% – from 2019, according to the report. Stops made by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were down 47%. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department recorded the smallest decline, at just 2.5%.
Of all the stops recorded in 2020, 40% of people are said to be Hispanic, 16.5% black, 31.7% white, 5.2% Asian and 4.7% Middle Eastern or South Asian. Blacks make up only 6.5% of the state’s population. Officers arrested 445,000 more whites than blacks, but took action against 9,431 more blacks, according to the report.
Overall, blacks were the most likely to be searched, detained, handcuffed and ordered out of their vehicles. Officers were more likely to use force against blacks and Hispanics, the data showed. People perceived to be Asian were less likely to be subjected to force than white people.
The board provided more in-depth analysis than in previous reports for arrests of people perceived to be transgender or gender non-conforming and of people perceived to have a disability.
Transgender women were the subject of action taken against them almost 62% of the time, more than people of any other gender identity. They also had the highest rate of being handcuffed or detained, while transgender men had the highest rate of being searched.
Police officers used force against people with perceived mental disorders five times more than people without.
Among the board’s recommendations to reduce stigma against transgender people: requiring several hours of LGBT-specific training for officers, prohibiting searches of people solely to determine their gender, and adopting policies that stipulate that transgender people do not may not be asked to remove items like wigs or underwear unless cisgender people face the same requirement.
The board also recommends that agencies adopt written policies committing to ending the profiling of people with disabilities and providing clear guidance for dealing with people in crisis.
Meanwhile, the board said more legislation or work should be done to clarify a 2020 law that requires peace officers to be “free” from bias against protected groups. The board noted that there was no consensus on whether someone could really be “free” from bias. He suggested lawmakers create funds for research and community groups to find better ways to analyze candidates’ implicit biases.
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