California police were more than twice as likely to use force against Black residents than white residents during traffic and pedestrian stops in 2021, says a new report on racial profiling. The report found that law enforcement searched Black people at 2.2 times the rate of white people and that Black youths ages 15 to 17 were searched at nearly six times the rate of white teenagers, reports the Guardian. Latino residents were stopped and subjected to force at 1.4 times the rate of white people, and Latino youths were searched at nearly four times the rate of white youths. The disproportionate searches of Black and Latino people have persisted despite the fact that from 2019 to 2021, officers were least likely to find contraband on members of those groups compared with white people. California’s racial and identity profiling advisory board gathered data on stops by officers from 58 law enforcement agencies in 2021. The data suggest that racial profiling remains a systemic problem in the state, particularly with “pretextual stops”, when officers use minor violations as a pretext to investigate someone or launch a search that would otherwise not be justified. It found that the 58 agencies, which include the 23 largest departments in the state, collectively made more than 3.1 million vehicle and pedestrian stops in 2021. In more than 42 percent of those stops, the individual was perceived to be Hispanic or Latino, but more than 30 percent were perceived to be white and 15 percent were believed to be Black.
The report also found that Black teenagers were detained on the curb or in a patrol car at the highest rate compared with all other groups, with Black youths ages 10 to 17 handcuffed in 34 percent to 37 percent of stops. The report found that transgender residents were disproportionately stopped for alleged loitering offenses, which advocates say have long been cited by police to criminalize and harass trans people and sex workers. Loitering made up 1.03 percent of all stops, but for trans women and girls constituted 4.36 percent of stops, and for trans men and boys it was 4.55 percent. People with perceived disabilities also faced higher rates of loitering stops, for people with perceived mental health disabilities, roughly 6.04 percent of stops were for loitering. “This research suggests that racial and identity profiling goes beyond the criminal legal system and policing; it is also a critical public health issue,” the report said.