Berkeley Police Department releases additional data on stops, searches

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Berkeley Police Department released data Thursday that show the demographics of people stopped and searched by police in the city.

The information, released on BPD’s public portal, contains information on vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian stops of civilians, with demographic information including race, gender and age. Information on vehicle stops had previously been publicized by civil rights groups after BPD’s response to a Public Records Act request in September.

The data released by BPD contained 2,199 previously unreleased cases of pedestrian and bicycle stops. Within that information, race was recorded for 1,652 individuals.

Of the pedestrian and bicycle stops made between Jan. 26 and Aug. 31 for which demographic data were recorded, approximately 50 percent were of white people, while approximately 32 percent were of black people. According to the city of Berkeley’s Existing Conditions Report, black people made up approximately 8 percent of the population in 2013, while white people made up about 56 percent.

According to George Lippman, a member of the city’s Police Review Commission, this demographic information should be a significant starting point in the conversation about Berkeley policing.

“The Berkeley Police Department shares our community’s concern about disparity and inequity,” said BPD Chief Michael Meehan in an email. “Few agencies have done as much to understand and address the issue.”

BPD is the first police agency in the state to partner with the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA to analyze its stop data, Meehan said. He added that BPD voluntarily collects and publicly shares demographic stop data in an effort to be open and transparent, and that “good public policy can only emerge from expert analysis.”

“Collection of data can assist and contribute to the national discussion, focus our attention internally on implicit bias and increase trust by making policing in Berkeley more transparent to the community,” Meehan said in the email.

BPD began collecting data on pedestrian and bicycle stops in January in response to the Fair and Impartial Policing policy passed by Berkeley City Council in June 2014.

The newly released data also showed that of about 300 total searches, approximately 40 percent were of black people and 38 percent were of white people.

Black people were more than 1.5 times more likely to be stopped than white people, as approximately 23 percent of black people stopped were then searched and about 14 percent of white people stopped were searched.

About 32 percent of Hispanics were searched after being stopped, but they made up only about 12 percent of total searches.

The previous data on BPD traffic stops showed that black people who were searched after being stopped made up approximately 57 percent of total searches, while white people made up only about 14 percent.

Contact Trevor Greenan at [email protected].