Center for Policing Equity releases report noting racial disparities in Berkeley policing

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Black and Hispanic individuals are more likely to be stopped by the Berkeley Police Department than white people, according to a report by the Center for Policing Equity, or CPE, that was presented at the Police Review Commission, or PRC, meeting May 9.

The report is based on data collected between 2012 and 2016 from BPD vehicle stops, pedestrian stops and reported use of force. It catalogues disparities in stops, searches and arrests among Black, Hispanic, Asian American and white populations and provides recommendations for BPD practices to address the concerns raised by the report’s findings.

“(The report) is intended as a preliminary guide to illuminate options that might advance equity in public safety, providing straightforward statistical answers to some of the most pressing questions facing BPD and other law enforcement agencies,” the report said.

According to the report, Black individuals were 6.5 times more likely per capita to be stopped while driving and 4.5 times more likely to be stopped on foot than white people. Hispanic individuals were about twice as likely per capita to be stopped driving than white persons and slightly less likely to be stopped on foot. Once stopped, Black drivers were searched at a rate four times higher than that of their white counterparts, and Hispanic drivers were searched at a rate three times higher.

After being stopped and searched, however, Black and Hispanic persons were less likely to be found committing a criminal offense than their White counterparts were, the report notes. According to the report, Black and Hispanic drivers who were searched were “more likely to be innocent than White (and Asian-American) drivers who are searched.”

BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel said in an email that BPD had sought out recommendations from CPE —  a fact that is “largely overlooked.” Frankel added that the staff had reviewed the report’s findings “at great length.”

“We believe that this iteration represented a good first step but agree that there is much to do moving forward with the recommendations provided by CPE,” Frankel said in an email. “We will continue to reinforce the training our officers receive on recognizing and reducing bias, using de-escalation when feasible, and crisis intervention skills.”

According to the acting chair of the PRC, George Perezvelez, the police department is committed to offering data and participating in the CPE program.

Perezvelez added that the CPE recommendations remain on the PRC agenda to ensure they are implemented, particularly those regarding use of force, as well as capturing more data, such as gender and age, from every stop.

“We look forward to working with the police department on training and the prevention of possible bias in policing so we can address the disparities identified in the CPE report,” Perezvelez said.

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.