Politics

California anti-profiling bill requires data on police stops

California lawmakers on Wednesday narrowly approved anti-racial profiling legislation ordering unprecedented data collection on police stops.
California lawmakers on Wednesday narrowly approved anti-racial profiling legislation ordering unprecedented data collection on police stops.
Photo by Andrew Sorensen via Flickr Creative Commons

California lawmakers on Wednesday narrowly approved anti-racial profiling legislation ordering unprecedented data collection on police stops, as they grapple with reducing tensions between law enforcement and minority communities.

It was one of dozens of bills considered ahead of a Friday deadline to pass legislation out of one chamber of the Legislature. The Senate also approved an ambitious climate change package that would boost the use of renewable energy to 50 percent in 15 years and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Assembly, AB953 barely advanced to require law enforcement agencies starting in 2018 to report a racial breakdown of whom they pull over or question. It is one of few surviving police reform bills introduced in the wake of nationwide protests over police killings of minority men.

AB953's author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, said she believed police pulled her over because they thought she was out of place in her own neighborhood. Weber is black.

"When do we stop the cycle? When do we say enough is enough in this country?" the San Diego Democrat said.

Her bill calls for police departments, sheriff's offices and other agencies to write annual reports breaking out the number of stops, the outcomes (such as citations or arrests) and the age and race of those stopped. Law enforcement groups say such data tracking is unnecessary and would distract from keeping communities safe.

Supporters of the bill countered that data collection could end up showing that racial discrimination by police isn't as widespread as believed.

"It will help law enforcement, especially now when the public believes there is something dramatically wrong with their interactions with people of color," said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, a Los Angeles Democrat who leads the Legislative Black Caucus.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, was the only lawmaker to speak against the bill, saying "labeling police officers as part of the problem isn't helpful."

The bill heads to the Senate after passing 41-23, the minimum needed to advance.

Other police reform legislation has struggled in California this year.

A fiscal panel last week shelved legislation requiring independent investigations of police shootings and an annual report about deaths in police custody. Another bill regulating the use of police body cameras, AB66 also by Weber, is at a standstill over whether officers should be able to review footage before submitting reports about shooting people.