The California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (Board) announced the release of its fourth annual report on racial and identity profiling in policing in the state as required under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 (RIPA). The report contains an analysis of the nearly 4 million vehicle and pedestrian stops conducted by California’s 15 largest law enforcement agencies in 2019. The report also examines civilian complaint data, provides recommendations from the Board, and shares best practices in a number of areas, including on bias-free policing policies, bias by proxy and crisis intervention, and training. In addition to the Board’s latest report, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is highlighting recently expanded access to RIPA data on stops in schools and search discovery rates through online dashboards on OpenJustice. Ultimately, this latest RIPA report aims to directly contribute to the conversation on police reform through data and research, policy recommendations, and accountability mechanisms that will help give communities, legislators, and law enforcement tools for innovative and critically-needed action.
The information collected under RIPA includes data on peace officers’ perceptions of the demographics of stopped individuals. The purpose of collecting information on officer perceptions is to attempt to systematically document and analyze stops and searches to determine whether disparities can be found across demographics and geographies. The perceived demographic information collected includes a number of characteristics such as race or ethnicity, gender, age, disability status, English fluency, and LGBT identity. There are a number of methodologies to analyze stop data that can help determine if bias may exist, and the report relies on several well-established methods as reference points. However, as noted in the report, there are important limitations and caveats for each methodology that should be kept in mind when interpreting the data. Some of the key findings from the 2019 round of data collection and first full year of RIPA data include:
Reason for Stop: Across all racial and ethnic groups, the most common reason peace officers reported for initiating a stop was a traffic violation (85%) and the next most common reason was reasonable suspicion of criminal activity (12.1%). People who were perceived as Black had the highest proportion of their stops (21%) for reasonable suspicion while those who were perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian had the lowest (4%).
Use of Force: People who were perceived as Black or Hispanic were more likely to have force used against them as compared to those perceived as White, whereas those perceived as Asian were less likely. The odds of having force used during a stop were 1.45 times greater for people perceived as Black, and 1.18 times greater for people perceived as Hispanic, as compared to those perceived as White.
Weighted Residential Population Compared to Stop Data: Using data from the 2018 American Community Survey, people who were perceived as Black were overrepresented in the stop data (+9.3% Points) and people perceived as Asian were underrepresented (-6.6% Points) as compared to population estimates.
Veil of Darkness Analysis: This method analyzes stops that were made during the intertwilight period, which is the time of day that can either be light or dark depending on the time of year. The proportion of individuals stopped after dark during this period was compared across perceived racial or ethnic groups. Having a lower proportion of stops occur in the dark compared to people perceived as White may indicate bias. People perceived as Hispanic were the least likely (-1.4% Points) to be stopped after dark compared to those perceived as White. Although not statistically significant, individuals perceived as Asian were the only group that were more likely (+0.2% Points) to be stopped after dark compared to those perceived as White.
Search Rates: Search rates refer to the proportion of stops that involved a search. People who were perceived as Black were searched at 2.5 times the rate of people perceived as White. While officers stopped more than twice as many people perceived as White as compared to people perceived as Black, there were more individuals who were perceived as Black who ended up being searched, detained on the curb or in a patrol car, handcuffed, or removed from vehicles.
Search Discovery Rates: The search discovery rate refers to the proportion of individuals that officers searched who were found to be in possession of contraband or evidence. Compared to individuals who were perceived as White, search discovery rates were highest for people who were perceived as multiracial (+1.7% Points) and lowest for people who were perceived as Middle Eastern or South Asian (-2.8% Points). Altogether, individuals perceived as Black, Hispanic, and Native American had higher search rates despite having lower search discovery rates compared to individuals who were perceived as White.
Read the full report here.
Download the fact sheet.