Oakland police stop and search blacks more often than any other racial group in the city, a report released by the Oakland Police Department today shows.
According to a preliminary report released today, blacks are stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 62 percent while they make up just 28 percent of the city’s population. The report also shows that although blacks were more likely to be stopped, they were no more likely than any other racial group to be found with illegal drugs, weapons or other contraband.
The data also shows that Oakland police are more likely to arrest blacks on suspicion of felony charges during a stop.
The report, which presents stop-and-search figures from last April through November, was ordered as part of the negotiated settlement of a multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit over a decade ago stemming from the Riders scandal which alleged police brutality and other misconduct.
Oakland Interim Police Chief Sean Whent said in a letter today that the figures in the report are reflective of “the situation in many U.S. cities and speaks to the need for systemic changes throughout our communities.”
“We are committed to working toward an Oakland that ensures equal opportunities, protections and successes for all,” he wrote.
Whent said the department is regularly monitoring its stop data analysis during internal meetings and with oversight by a federal court-appointed monitor. Oakland police are also implementing a procedural justice training program aimed at increasing positive, respectful interactions with the community, among other strategies meant to promote “fair and equitable policing,” he said.
John Burris, one of the civil rights attorneys who worked on the Riders case and has long called on the department to release the report, said today that he isn’t surprised by the findings.
“It’s disappointing, but we’ve always suspected this to be true,” he said.
“I’m hopeful the data will get analyzed in such a way that we can find out whether there’s implicit bias in law enforcement,” Burris said.
According to the report, Hispanics were stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 17 percent, whites at 12 percent, Asians at 6 percent and other ethnicities at a rate of 3 percent.
Police said traffic violations were the basis for 61 percent of the stops, followed by probable cause at 23 percent and reasonable suspicion at 10 percent.
Laura Dixon, Bay City News