SAN DIEGO — A recent report by San Diego State University found that San Diego police officers were more likely to search African-American and Hispanic drivers, despite the fact that they were less likely to be found carrying contraband than white drivers.
The study looked at 260,000 traffic stops in 2014 and 2015. It also found that blacks, Hispanics and Pacific Islander drivers were also subjected to more field interviews than white drivers.
The study found that race and ethnicity were not major factors in who police pulled over, but they were important factors in who they decided to search, the station reported.
The SDSU report also included 10 major recommendations that included: acknowledging that racial and ethnic disparities exist and make combating those disparities a priority; enhancing police training surrounding racial and ethnic disparities; making traffic stops more transparent; increase community engagement and strengthening accountability and oversight of data collection and management.
The study, released earlier this month, came at a time when relations between law enforcement and minority communities have been strained across the country.
Late last week the city issued an official response to the report questioning a slight difference in total traffic stops during the period in question; a disparity in report figures related to traffic stops of Hispanics during daytime and nighttime hours; questions about the report’s context for missing data and unexplained changes in monthly traffic stop volumes, and other items in the report.
On Wednesday night, San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman released a statement, which read, “I am proud of our department personnel who come to work each day with the desire to make a positive difference. We enjoy a tremendous partnership with our community and that is why we are one of the safest big cities in the United States.
“We want every citizen to feel safe in their community, feel valued in their opinion, and feel listened to by their police Department. We will used these recommendations to strengthen, enhance and foster new relationships with our community we so proudly serve.”