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HRC: Police 'profiling' data still needed

Original post made on Jan 24, 2008

Palo Alto police officers should continue collecting racial and gender data about individuals officers stop, but with only one report a year, not two, the Human Relations Commission decided Wednesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 24, 2008, 9:20 AM

Comments (9)

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Posted by GMC
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

At night, I seriously doubt a police officer could tell what race the driver is. This policy has almost no usefulness. If a police officer really were to make a habit of stopping people purely to harass them, why wouldn't he or she just fudge the statistics? In addition, if the objective truth is that a higher percentage of crimes are committed by specific groups, then the number of police stops is going to reflect that. Its just an unfortunate truth in our society. I'd like Palo Alto to continue to be a really safe place where people are outraged when even one robbery takes place. Forcing police officers to keep this tally is a potential step towards handcuffing law enforcement efforts to prevent crimes.
As is frequently mentioned on here - we do not want Palo Alto to turn into Berkeley.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2008 at 1:57 pm

The police profiling that is real in Palo Alto is the PC police on the HRC. Their view, reflexively, is that white PA cops are out looking for non-white stops, based on nothing. That is a real laugher.

Can this thing, and save the money. We need our bicycle cops back on University to run the bums out of there. We used to have that service.

The main reform we need to eliminate the HRC. It is a complete farce.


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Posted by NO-MORE-HRC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2008 at 10:12 am

> The main reform we need to eliminate the HRC.
> It is a complete farce

Absolutely!

The police have no business having to deal with the HRC.

There was a claim of "profiling" that has now been dealt with. There does not seem to be any data that substantiates the claim.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I agree with Jim. We need police on foot or bike to patrol the downtown area. There are too many transient vagrants wandering the streets and acting in an obnoxious and sometimes dangerous manner. I'm sorry to say that I don't think the Palo Alto Police even notice the vagrants. You really get the impression that they don't want them in their cars and they don't want to interact with them. It's their job, but the vagrant advocates in this area are aggressive and the police are letting them take the lead. What ever happened to the "Restorative Policing" experiment? Face it - it just doesn't work. Time to start arresting and letting them spend some time in jail. Yes, it costs money, but it's worth it. Everything costs money. It's time to start enforcing the law.


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Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2008 at 4:54 pm

The heart of the question is what does the data say? So far the City has not asked for a good study of the PAPD data from an unbiased and qualified statistician. Preliminary descriptions of the police data, taken directly from the official reports, indicate there is overstopping of Palo Alto African-Americans. Also, given that a person is stopped, there is clearly a significant difference in the disposition or outcome of the stop depending on racial group. Such results are not opinion. That is what the PAPD data is saying.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm

" Preliminary descriptions of the police data, taken directly from the official reports, indicate there is overstopping of Palo Alto African-Americans. Also, given that a person is stopped, there is clearly a significant difference in the disposition or outcome of the stop depending on racial group. Such results are not opinion."

John, you seem very sure of yourself. On what baseline do you determine that there is " overstopping of Palo Alto African-Americans" ? Is it based on population, or actual presence? When you say, " clearly a significant difference in the disposition or outcome of the stop depending on racial group", is this based on actual law breaking (e.g. warrants or criminal behavior)?

As hard as you try, John, you will not be able to paint Palo Alto as a racist town. Class conscious and elitist, maybe, but not racist.

The truly bigoted group in town is the HRC. It has the nasty tendecny to ask questions that amount to "when did you stop beating your wife?".

It is time to eliminate the HRC.


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Posted by Can-The-HRC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2008 at 7:39 am

> Preliminary descriptions of the police data, taken
> directly from the official reports, indicate there is
> overstopping of Palo Alto African-Americans.

When the police stop someone, it is for a reason: speeding, illegal turn, failure-to-yield, running a stop sign, etc. If a citation is issued, and not overturned later in court, why shouldn't the person who is stopped be stopped? In other words, what is "overstopping" when a valid infraction of the law can be demonstrated by the traffic officer? If every person guilty of a traffic infraction is cited, then where is the "over" here?

Are people claiming "overstopping" seem to be saying that some races should be given a pass for traffic violations?

If the police are not carrying the citation data along with the stopping data, then the data exercise is not as well designed as it could be.

The point about getting rid of the HRC still stands. This group is way over its head and little more than an embarrassment to decent Palo Altans.


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Posted by John from MIdtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2008 at 7:12 pm

I do not say it is necessary to suppose that the PAPD is always overtly racist in their interactions with black residents. But how they get so many indicators of overstopping from their quarterly production numbers needs some explanation. For example, just for Palo Alto African-American residents, there is a 3:1 AVERAGE stop rate compared to the 2% census proportion. Nothing like this occurs for the other racial groups. Sometimes the ratio reaches to 6:1. On both day and night stops, African-Americans are arrested most often, get less than half the citations whites do, and receive significantly more "No actions" and warnings than whites, Asians and others. It is as if police are more interested in checking them for arrests, and if that is not appropriate, they are let go. With regard to searches, the search rates for EITHER African Americans or Hispanics is so large that it typically exceeds the TOTAL search percentages for whites, Asians and "others" COMBINED. Why is this? Remember these are presumably just traffic stops. These are supposedly predominantly trffic stops, where the police claim color never affects their actions. Their own data (Demographic Series) just does not show this, not even mildly. Racial groups are in fact consistently treated differently for traffic stop outcomes. Why? So far police are not even willing to acknowledge what their own data shows. Forget the fancy analysis, this is just their quarterly outcome data. Will an in depth analysis be done by a competent statistician? Police so far are refusing to even entertain such a proposal.


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Posted by John from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2008 at 8:10 pm

There is a much better question I have to ask: Is anybody out there even INTERESTED in whether the PAPD engages in racial profiling?


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