San Diego City Council Must Pass PrOTECT to Limit Bias in Police Practices

The problem

It starts with a pretext stop. 

In San Diego, law enforcement officers can stop a motorist if the officer has reasonable suspicion to make the stop. Not only does this legal standard give police officers broad authority to stop anyone they think might be committing a crime, but it gives opportunity for officers to unfairly target our communities, especially Black and brown communities. 

During the PrOTECT Our Communities Townhall, community members shared their experiences with being racially profiled by San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officers. Malcolme Morgan described a night when he was placed in a police vehicle and questioned for sleeping in his car. The car was parked right outside his mother’s house. That’s not a crime. Countless community members have lived experiences with racial profiling and there’s data to prove it.

Commissioned by the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the Evaluating Policing in San Diego report confirmed that the SDPD stops Black people at higher rates compared to any other group; is 81% more likely to search people perceived to have mental disabilities; and is 22% more likely to search people perceived as LGBTQ and 54% more likely to arrest them without a warrant. It’s clear that SDPD disproportionately targets communities of color, and these studies provide data points to our communities daily experiences with local police.

Alliance San Diego Civic Engagement Manager Eryn Wilson Nieves and other CPAT members presented various report findings pointing to bias in police practices.

The solution

Racial bias is a problem in policing, and the San Diego City Council can take the first step to earning the trust of our communities by passing the proposed law, Preventing Overpolicing Through Equitable Community Treatment (PrOTECT). Introduced by the Coalition for Police Accountability & Transparency (CPAT), of which Alliance San Diego is a member, PrOTECT would change the legal standard from reasonable suspicion to probable cause. Additionally, PrOTECT would:

  • Require police officers to have probable cause to stop or search anyone, including Fourth Waivers - people on probation or parole who have waived some of their Fourth Amendment rights
  • Require probable cause for searches
  • Prohibit officers from questioning people about any offenses beyond the offense for which they were stopped unless the officers have probable cause
  • Hold officers accountable if they violate the ordinance


Advocate for PrOTECT

Alliance San Diego supports policies that address police violence and reduces the presence of police in our communities. We urge city councilmembers to listen to the communities they serve and pass PrOTECT. Here’s a few ways YOU can advocate for PrOTECT:

  • Organizing Workshop, Thursday April 8 - Join The Center for this workshop on April 8th at 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. via Zoom. Learn how to get involved with the PrOTECT ordinance ahead of the upcoming City Council meeting. RSVP for the workshop here. For questions, email [email protected].
  • San Diego City Council Meeting, Tuesday, April 13 - Attend this critical meeting where Campaign Zero will present their findings from the Evaluating Policing in San Diego report to the councilmembers. This is also an opportunity for community members to tell the San Diego City Council to pass PrOTECT. Click here for the meeting agenda. For instructions on how to make a public comment and for call-in details for the City Council meeting click here.
  • Sign the petition - Urge Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego City Council to pass PrOTECT, which would end pretext stops and consent searches. Sign the petition here.
  • Use social media to urge your councilmembers - Tag your council member on social media and urge them to pass PrOTECT. You can also share or retweet our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram