Police stop and search African-Americans at a far higher rate than other racial groups in Oakland, according to a police report released Monday that has renewed concerns about racial profiling in the city.
African-Americans, who compose 28 percent of Oakland’s population, accounted for 62 percent of police stops from last April to November, the report found. The figures also showed that stops of African-Americans were more likely to result in felony arrests.
However, while African-Americans were far more likely to be searched by police upon being stopped, officers were no more likely to recover contraband from searching African-Americans than members of other racial groups.
Latinos accounted for 17 percent of police stops, whites accounted for 12 percent, Asians 6 percent and “others” 3 percent.
Monday’s report had been sought for years by the police department’s federal overseer, Robert Warshaw. Preventing racial profiling was one of dozens of reform tasks the police department agreed to undertake more than a decade ago in the aftermath of the Riders police scandal, which included allegations of brutality and framing drug suspects.
City leaders, cautioned that the report needed further analysis and did not necessarily demonstrate that police were unfairly targeting African-Americans. Several outside police experts informed of the findings pointed to the 14 percent felony arrest rate for African-Americans who were stopped as an indication that police were not profiling.
Interim Chief Sean Whent said he wasn’t surprised by the figures given the department’s focus on fighting crime in the most violent sections of the city. He said the department would not make it a goal to stop fewer African-Americans.
“We want to focus on the people committing most of the crime whoever that may be regardless of race,” he said.
Prior attempts to generate the report had been compromised by technology failures that resulted in faulty data, officials said. The city has hired an expert to go over the data and is scheduling additional training for officers. Moving forward, police will be issuing similar reports twice a year, Mayor Jean Quan said.
Source: Mercury News | Matthew Artz