In the midst of a national debate around the deadly consequences of racial and identity profiling by police, California took a bold step forward to rid our state of this unjust practice.
The Racial and Identify Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) was developed and has ben working tirelessly with community members to develop regulations that would require law enforcement to collect and report data involving a stop or detention.
The Board's efforts are moving forward so we sat down with Andrea Guerro, RIPA Board member and Executive Director at Alliance San Diego to get the inside scoop on racial profiling in California.
1. What is the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board?
The RIPA Board was created by state legislation, AB 953, sponsored by San Diego Assemblymember Shirley Weber. The RIPA Board is made up of a mix of community leaders, law enforcement leaders, faith leaders and academic experts, and includes two board members from San Diego: Doug Oden and Andrea Guerrero (me).
The Board is charged with advising the California Department of Justice in its efforts to eliminate racial and identify profiling, and improve diversity and sensitivity in law enforcement. The specific tasks of the Board are to: advise the California DOJ in the development of regulations to govern the collection of stop data by police; analyze the data collected; review citizen complaint data; conduct research on bias; and recommend improvements to police training, policies, and practices to eliminate racial and identity profiling.
2. Why is the work of the RIPA Board important?
To increase public safety, we need to strengthen the trust between the police and the community. The community relies on the police to keep us safe, and the police rely on the community to report and help solve crime. The RIPA Board seeks to restore trust by increasing transparency, accountability, and oversight.
Law enforcement is the only profession in the state that gives people the power to take life, liberty and property within the confines of the Constitution. It is imperative to our public safety that we be able to trust police with this power, but we cannot trust the police if we believe that some are abusing their power by profiling community members. The questions that the RIPA Board seeks to answer are (1) is profiling happening and at what scope and scale, (2) why is it happening, and (3) how can we address it to end it.
3. Where are we in the process of implementing the proposed regulations of the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015?
The California DOJ issued draft regulations earlier this year and invited public comment. The DOJ is about to issue revised regulations based on the input it received. Once the regulations become final, police departments will begin implementing them and prepare to collect stop data starting in 2018.
4. How will the data collected be shared with the public?
Police departments across the state will submit their stop data to the California DOJ. That data will be reviewed and analyzed by the RIPA Board, which will then issue an annual report with findings from the data and the status of profiling in the state as well as recommendations for eliminating profiling.
5. Why is it important that people provide public testimony during this phase, and how can they get involved?
We need to hear from community members who have experienced racial or identity profiling to better understand how profiling happens and its impact on individuals and communities. The data provides us with some information, but the stories are critical to contextualizing the data. By sharing your stories, you remind us all of the imperative we face: to end profiling, restore trust, and increase public safety. Your stories help inform the solutions in California, which could serve as model solutions for other parts of the country.