Voters Want Cops to Keep Track of Driving-While-Black Stops

Voters Want Cops to Keep Track of Driving-While-Black Stops
File photo by Chris Yarzab/Flickr

Driving while black. You know it happens. Police, subconsciously or not, stop way more African-American and Latino motorists than their populations or criminal activity would justify.

The Religious Action Center says that, despite being less likely to be arrested, California's black folks "were stopped twice as often as their driving-age demographic representation" and that "blacks and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of whites."

A bill (AB 953) from Assemblywoman Shirley N. Weber of San Diego would make cops track the race or ethnicity of people they stop and state if a search was conducted with consent. 

That last part is interesting, because it would essentially force officers into a corner about the truth of a stop. If they wrote something false down, they could be disciplined for lying.

Annual reports on this data would have to be submitted by departments to state officials.

A poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 69 percent of likely California voters support such legislation. The results were recently revealed by the ACLU of California's Center for Advocacy and Policy, which commissioned the poll.

It also found that nearly two-thirds of likely voters in the Golden State believe African-Americans are more likely to face police discrimination.

About 71 percent of California voters believe police are most likely to discriminate against young black men. Likely voters also believe Latinos (58 percent) and young Latino men (61 percent) also face more cop discrimination, the poll found.

Natasha Minsker, director of the ACLU of California's Center for Advocacy and Policy, said:

In the wake of events in Ferguson, New York, Charleston and Baltimore, we have been left heartbroken and shaken by the sometimes lethal impacts of racially biased policing. This year in California, over 100 people have died at the hands of police officers.

Our leaders and elected officials should listen to California voters and act on sensible reforms like AB 953.

Legislator Weber says that police departments don't always account for DWB stops these days. 

"One of our best defenses is information," Weber says. "Currently, this information on these incidents isn’t provided publicly in a comprehensive way. The goal is to reestablish trust between law enforcement and communities of color."

The poll of 900 likely California voters, including 100 African-American voters, has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent.


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