City Leaders and Communities Announce Steps Taken to Address Biased Policing and Racial Profiling in City of San Diego

Media Contacts:

Mitchelle Woodson, Think Dignity: (619) 354- 9879 / [email protected]

Bishop Bowser, Shaphat Outreach: (619) 729-5976 / [email protected]

SAN DIEGO, CA - CPAT along with community partners have been advocating for years for an ordinance to address pretext stops and searches.  We are excited to announce that Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe requested that the City Attorney provide a legal analysis on Preventing Overpolicing through Equitable Community Treatment (PrOTECT) ordinance. A legal review by the city attorney is a first step to PrOTECT being heard in the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee and ultimately becoming law. Councilmember Montgomery Steppe has been a fearless and consistent leader and we are proud to partner with her on this important ordinance.

On June 17, 2021 the Center for Police Equity (CPE) and the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) released a report that shows what many in San Diego already knew - Black and Brown people are subject to a different standard of policing in San Diego.

CPE’s analysis showed that 206,486 stops by SDPD were solely for reasonable suspicion. That is an incredible amount of stops that are based on an officer’s discretion. Black people experience non-traffic stops 3.5 times as often as white people per year on average. The analysis further showed that these disparities in stops also impact our youth with the racial disparity in non-traffic stops of Latino people being greatest among children ages 3-14 (42.5%) and young people 15-21 (40.3%).

The analysis from CPE, reports (San Diego State University, Voice of San Diego, Campaign Zero) that came before the CPE report, and the lived experience of black and brown community members that continue to be shared demand action. It is past time to reimagine how safety is created in our communities and to reduce the role, responsibilities and presence of police in San Diego. It is time to invest in community driven solutions and not failed attempts to criminalize parts of our communities.

PrOTECT has been developed with feedback from community members, civil rights lawyers, research and best practices.

PrOTECT will:

  • Require officers to have probable cause to stop, detain or search a person (this includes “Fourth Waivers” - people on probation or parole who have waived some of their Fourth Amendment rights);
  • Eliminate stops for certain equipment violations (i.e. expired registration, broken turn signal, etc.);
  •  Prohibit officers from questioning people about any offense beyond the offense for which they were stopped unless the officers have probable cause; and
  • Hold officers accountable if they violate the PrOTECT ordinance. 

This is what elected and community leaders are saying about PrOTECT and this important step in advancing PrOTECT to become law:

“As a Council, we should govern by making data-driven decisions. We now have ample data and information to support our efforts to reimagine policing,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods. “Conventional reforms, such as the use of body cameras have been helpful but have not gone far enough in stopping police misconduct.  The same can be said about training and supervision. We must make effective investments that address the root causes of challenges facing our communities of concern.”

“In addition to immediate justice for the victims of police violence, their families and communities, San Diego must make intentional policy changes that prevent future harm. The data from all reports, including the recent report from the Center on Policing Equity, highlight the shameful reality that Black San Diegans and other members in our communities of concern face inequitable treatment from law enforcement. I have called for an official legal review of the PrOTECT ordinance and look forward to taking meaningful action as a Council.” – Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, PSLN Chair 

"Story after story, study after study -- the data remains the same. Our community has been asked to wait as they have their experiences examined, evaluated, and assessed in every way possible. We took those steps and now we must take ones of action," said Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera. "For generations, our people have been asking for change, offering solutions, and turning to leaders to make transformative reform. I look to Councilmember Montgomery Steppe's leadership and her collaboration with community in bringing forward the systemic changes we need to PS&LN, and ultimately Council, that will create safety and justice for all." – Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera, Ninth District


“Racial profiling and racial biases are detrimental and damaging to the city’s ability to create equitable treatment and respect for all community members. Several studies have now validated the countless experiences of Black and Brown people with SDPD, which indicate the use of racial bias and profiling in policing. BIPOC communities should feel safe and respected, especially from the very people charged with protecting them, the police. Our community deserves our collective best efforts to prevent mistreatment, harassment and abuse by our local law enforcement. In today’s climate, the PrOTECT ordinance is a practical and necessary next step in the course of making that a reality right now.” -Eryn Wilson Nieves, civic engagement manager with Alliance San Diego

“We must fundamentally change our policing systems. Practices like pretextual stops offer little to no benefit to the public. On the other hand, we know pretext stops by and large result in preventable fatalities and widespread trauma on community members of color, young and old. It is vital — and past time — that we address racially biased policing in San Diego.” - Geneviéve Jones-Wright, Esq., LL.M., Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance (MoGo)

“There is a critical need to eliminate laws and address practices that are used to target the unsheltered community. San Diego deploys SDPD as first responders to matters they are ill-equipped to handle, such as calls regarding homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. There are less expensive, more humane, and more effective solutions. PrOTECT is an important step in reducing police contact with our unsheltered community. If we want our communities to thrive, we must invest in funding crucial services that are often neglected: education, public health, workforce development, youth services, and affordable housing.” - Mitchelle Woodson, Esq., Executive Director of Think Dignity

“Young people deserve to feel safe and protected in their own homes, neighborhoods, schools, and communities, especially young Black and Brown people; however, we know that’s not the case. Black, indigenous, and young people of color are continuously stopped, harassed, and questioned by the police and that’s not acceptable. San Diego needs to do more to protect the next generation and PrOTECT is just the first step in doing so.” - Yasmeen Obeid, Youth Organizer with Mid-City CAN

“Addressing pretext stops is important because as the data continues to show SDPD uses pretext stops as a tool to unfairly stop, question, search, and traumatize Black and Brown community members. I support PrOTECT because it is a response that seeks to protect community members from biased policing. It is time to move beyond endless reports and empty words.” – Bishop Cornelius Bowser Sr. Shaphat Outreach 

On July 30 at 5:30 pm, CPAT will hold a community event/forum with Councilmember Montgomery Steppe to talk more about PrOTECT and opportunities to get involved in the fight to address biased policing in San Diego. We invite the community to learn more on CPAT’s socials at: Twitter @CPATSanDiego; Instagram @CPATSanDiego; Facebook 

About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.