Berkeley Police Department Data Reveals Stark Racial Disparities

Newly released data on police stops confirms local activists' and communities' of color charges of racial profiling in Berkeley. Data on police stops in Berkeley from January 18, 2015 to August 12, 2015, collected by the Berkeley Police Department and disclosed in response to a Public Records Act (PRA) request, reveals a pattern of discriminatory conduct against African American and Latino civilians.

SUMMARY OF DATA

Stops: Of 4658 civilians stopped by Berkeley police from January 26 through August 12 of this year for whom demographic statistics are available, 1710 were described as White, 1423 as African American, 543 as Hispanic/Latino. Though Black people constitute less than 8% of Berkeley's population, they were 30.5% of those stopped by police; whites, comprising 60% of Berkeley, were 36.7% of those stopped.

Disposition: 38.1% of White people stopped by Berkeley police were eventually released without being either arrested or cited. However, 66.2% of African Americans were released without an arrest or citation, with Hispanics/Latinos close behind at 56.4%.

Searches: African Americans were 31% of civilians stopped, yet they were 57% of searches. Whites, on the other hand, were 37% of stops and only 14% of searches.

Unfortunately, the stop data does NOT include pedestrian stops as mandated under city policy. The BPD needs to quickly clarify whether/how pedestrian stops are being reported. This information is not available in the information the BPD provided publicly in response to PRA, but is required by the General Order B-4.

This data supports the following conclusions:

  • When White civilians are stopped, it is far more often for a legitimate reason.
  • When African Americans and Latinos are stopped, very often it is for no reason.
  • Black people are stopped almost twice as much as White people.
  • Both African Americans and Latinos who are stopped are searched at a shockingly higher rate as compared to White civilians in Berkeley.

BACKGROUND

In June 2014, the Berkeley City Council directed the Berkeley Police Department to adopt a Fair and Impartial Policing policy (B-4). The policy requires police to collect and report data on the subjects of all street encounters, whether traffic or pedestrian stops. There were numerous delays in collecting the information related to technical problems. Eventually, BPD reported that all officers were trained, procedures were agreed upon and officers began entering data in January 2015. The enclosed statistical data was only produced after an official PRA was filed.

African Americans, in particular, have long complained of over-policing in South Berkeley, including random stops, regular searches, routine handcuffing and repeated harassment by BPD. However, data has never been collected on this scale, until now. The data gathered affirms the perception that African Americans and Latinos are being racially profiled in Berkeley.

"This data substantiates the concerns expressed by numerous African Americans about BPD over-policing of the Black community in Berkeley," said Mansour Id-Deen, a longtime community activist and President of the Berkeley NAACP.

"This disproportionate stopping and searching of innocent African Americans for no reason comes at a time when Berkeley's crime rate is up 23% over last year. While the Berkeley police waste time stopping African Americans who have done nothing to justify their detention, BPD's ability to keep Berkeley citizens safe from crime is further diminished," said Marcel Jones, member of the UC Berkeley Black Student Union and organizer with Berkeley Copwatch.

THE SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS DEMAND:

  • BPD reporting requirements: BPD must report statistical information quarterly as well as its progress ineliminating biased policing. The report must include information on traffic stops as well as pedestrian stops, and comply with General Order B-4;
  • Identify squads and teams with a pattern of stops without sufficient yield, and take corrective action including retraining, reconstitution and/or discipline;
  • Establish a citywide Department of Race and Equity;
  • Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for ALL BPD officers;
  • Require that police be equipped with body cameras, and that comprehensive policies be established for both privacy protection and public access to the videos, and to protect civilians' right to film the police.

BPD General Order on Fair and Impartial Policing

BPD General Order on Personnel Complaint Procedure and Disposition and the Internal Affairs Bureau

BPD Demographic Data Analyzed (Excel File)