Starting in July, law enforcement officers throughout California will start collecting demographics data from nearly all drivers and pedestrians that they stop – that includes data on race, gender, English proficiency and disabilities.
The final regulations from the program were released by Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office Wednesday. The regulations were developed because of The Racial and Identity Profiling Act, which was passed in 2015 and mandated that all California law enforcement collect this data, with the intention of recognizing and preventing racial profiling.
Law enforcement groups had lobbied against the legislation, saying it would add a time-consuming task to officers in agencies that are already understaffed.
There are also questions about the practicalities of such a program. Since a police officer cannot directly ask a citizen about their race or gender, they would have to guess at their demographics – and what happens if they get it wrong? Does that open them to lawsuits? Or is the information regarding an officer’s perception of a citizen’s demographics actually what’s being collected? What are the benefits of this program and how will the data be used?
Ben McBride, reverend and co-chair of the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board designed to review the regulations
Mark Cronin, director with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union representing LAPD officers