Chief wants cameras to stop racial profiling

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne made a pitch Wednesday for the City Council to authorize the purchase of cameras that record the interaction of officers and the public in order to reduce incidents of racial profiling.

The chief’s proposal came at  a meeting of the council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, where dozens of residents called out San Diego Police Department’s top brass over a lapse in their policy when it comes racial profiling.

During a packed meeting, dozens of people took to the podium with various racial profiling claims by San Diego police officers. The attendees outlined their experiences of being pulled over by officers and immediately questioned about their probation status, gang connections and tattoos.

“When I’m dressed like this, they don’t handcuff me,” said one African American man wearing a business suit.

SDPD Chief William Lansdowne“As a college graduate and African American woman, it’s humiliating to be stopped and questioned,” said another speaker.

District 4 City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole invited SDPD Chief William Lansdowne to address a recent study that found the department had lapsed in its collection of data relating to officers targeting minorities during traffic stops.

“[Our officers] train to make sure we do things right,” said Lansdowne. “We have checks and balances, but there’s always going to be disagreement in public safety.”

When Lansdowne was finished with his presentation, Cole held firm that the dozens of people in the room needed to be heard and addressed.

“See this turnout today? They believe racial profiling continues to be a sensitive issue,” Cole said.

Barber shop owner and community activist Mario Lewis said not only has he been the victim of racial profiling, but he sees it every day in southeast San Diego near his business.

“Instead of asking me for my license and registration, [officers] asked me if I was on probation or parole,” Lewis said.  “Those are the very first things they asked me before asking for my license.”

San Diego once was a nationwide leader for tracking data by officers on patrol and the reasons they pull people over. According to a recent report by, San Diego officers stopped jotting down the data until Lansdowne ordered a resumption in October. Most big city departments record racial information during traffic stops.

The website reported that data collection increased after the chief took action.

While top SDPD officials conceded that data shows Latinos and blacks are stopped more frequently than Asians and whites, they denied a systematic pattern of bias in vehicle stops or searches.

Lansdowne said it’s been 10 years since the department looked at the issue, but he believed the solution lies in technology. He made a pitch for the City Council to authorize the purchase of cameras that record the interaction of officers and the public in order to reduce incidents of racial profiling.

Lansdowne said the small cameras can be worn on uniforms and record both video and audio.

“The police officers are very committed to it,” Lansdowne said. “They’re excited about the cameras. They think that they serve a purpose both for the community and for the officers themselves.”

He recommended the purchase of 100 of the devices, with a price tag of $165,000 to $200,000 to use in a test phase. Eventually, the SDPD will need around 900 of the cameras — and managing the devices will cost about $2 million annually, he said.

The department is now collecting data again and will meet with the City Council in April to see what the data reveals.


  • jon

    My wife was pulled over last week by sdpd here in carmel valley for supposedly traffic violation out right she was asked what race she is because she’s not white we are asian decent. Now tell me if that’s not racial profiling?

  • KlauSS

    Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
    Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving Blacks and Whites, Blacks commit 85 percent and Whites commit 15 percent.
    Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a White than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.
    Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.
    Only 10 percent of youth gang members are white.
    Hispanics are 19 times more likely than whites to be members of youth gangs. Blacks are 15 times more likely, and Asians are nine times more likely.
    Between 1980 and 2003 the US incarceration rate more than tripled, from 139 to 482 per 100,000, and the number of prisoners increased from 320,000 to 1.39 million.
    Blacks are seven times more likely to be in prison than Whites. Hispanics are three times more likely.

  • Hatt Mix

    For the Asian moron, the officers have to write your race on the citation. You may be Mung, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lao, Japanese or several other Asian races…..if the officer writes the wrong one down then you become irate because the little white officer “Should know what ethnicity you are”. See they can’t win! Now for all you race baters out there remember this, those cameras work both ways so when you claim the officer called you a Spic, or Ni&&er or Chink or whatever and it didn’t happen but you file a BS complaint against them hoping your criminal complaint gets dropped, they then have a right to sue you as well as you can and will be charged with filing a false report….And yes this happens all the time.

    • jon

      To Hot Mix and PB geek. With what you’ve said does make sense but isn’t obvious? If you’re white do asked you what kind of rave are you? What decent do they asked if you’re german? english? swedish or russian? Or maybe if you’re a latino? Do they ask if you’re mexican? cuban? Puerto rican? Brazillian? Or if you’re black do they ask if you’re sudanese? nigerian? hatian? Or maybe im an alien automatically I’m from Mars, can’t it just be I’m an alien? Or I’m asian, black, latino or just even plain white? Just like black and latinos being asked if they are on parole just because of their looks?

  • Hatt Mix

    Sorry Jon but they ask just about everyone who they stop if they’re on probation or parole. Do you understand why? First it’s in the probationer or parolees release agreement most of the time that they’ve waived their 4th ammendment rights to search and seizure. That’s why they’ve been release on probation or parole. So if an officer stops one of them and they are on probation or parole then they’re most likely subject to search. Some of the best arrests are made from traffic stops. Ask any street cop. Now to answer your ridiculous question about asking a white person what race they are….there’s no box on a ticket, arrest or crime report other than white but there are specific race codes for all other races. Don’t like it? Talk to the FBI. Those stats of race are gathered by the FBI. All forms used by all agencies have to be approved to include that information.

  • AfoxGuest

    @Chief and Sheriff, you don't need cameras, you just need to fire all the racist cops and deputies. It's easy to figure out who they are, just read their comments. From a financial standpoint, they are a huge liability and contribute nothing to your force. By the looks of it, they sure spend a lot of time posting racist/sexist comments and flagging comments that are against racism. With all that time spent on a computer, and not actually doing any work, they're probably OLD and FAT anyways, so who needs them. THEY'RE WORTHLESS to any organization, and all of your PROFESSIONAL COPS/DEPUTIES with high work ethic, have to pick up the slack for these losers.

    The real question is, are they posting racist comments, while on duty, at the tax payer's expense?

    Perhaps SeaWorld can take these WHALES (the FAT racist cops/deputies), they can perform stupid tricks for all the self-centered, SADISTIC humans in exchange for the release of all the healthy mammals. The cost of this solution $O spent, and less lawsuits that cost the city and the tax payer a fortune. SIMPLE PROBLEM SOLVED. THE END. Or we can all pretend that 100% of your organizations have 0 racists. Nice fairy tale. Do we really want to keep living in a fantasy land, or should we, in 2014, come to grips with reality and TAKE ACTION NOW. It's your choice, you decide, if you want to be the BEST, you are after all, in fact, the LEADERS.

  • Fred Ford

    Afox guest……wow, fat phobia? Look, the blacks in southeastern San Diego have been crying racism for decades. If you haven't committed a crime and you're pulled over for a traffic violation then you won't have any worries. If you have, that's when racism starts. You see, many times it's the blacks complaining about racism when in all actuality they're the one being racist. They get caught, go to jail and on the way to jail it starts. They Call the cops no matter what race they are Ni&&er and the women officers the big "C" word. If you haven't gone on a ride along you should not spew your garbage.No one is saying there's not maybe a few bad apples in the bunch. It's bound to happen. Anyone Remember the former Padre prospect that became an officer in the late 80's or early 90's and the local news station followed his progress through the police academy? He turned out to be a bad apple. He would get off duty, go to the beach and rape women. He's in prison where he belongs.

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