San Diego

SDPD Chief Zimmerman Responds to Racial Profiling Study

According to an SDSU study, San Diego police officers are three times more likely to pull over Hispanic and Black drivers and perform a search of their vehicles

San Diego Police (SDPD) Chief Shelley Zimmerman acknowledged bias in the department after a study by San Diego State University (SDSU) found that police are racially profiling Black and Hispanic drivers.

"If you're a human being you are going to have bias, so we need to make sure at the police department, that with our training, whatever bias anybody has that it never interferes with our fair and impartial policing and our constitutional policing,” Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.

According to the study, San Diego police officers are three times more likely to pull over Hispanic and Black drivers and perform a search of their vehicles.

The City of San Diego and SDPD claim the results of the independent study are flawed by incomplete data. However, Zimmerman and critics say they are convinced SDPD is on a more positive path to accountability and transparency.

But Zimmerman's admission seemed lackluster to critics who say they wanted a more specific acknowledgment of the issue.

“I really would have liked a stronger stand and recognition that there is a problem and we are going to work together to solve it,” said Haniff Mohebi, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“We need the chief, if we are going to begin the healing process. If we are going to heal the disparity together, there has to be an acknowledgment of it,” said Cornelius Bowser, Organizer for Dreaming of Violence-Free Everywhere (DOVE).

SDSU's study analyzed a quarter million vehicle stop cards, which officers are required to fill out to explain the circumstances of each traffic stop they perform. 

The results of the the study were released the day before Thanksgiving, which also raised some concern among critics. Read the full report here.

“What we are talking about at its core is the public's trust in what we do and how we police our neighborhoods. The process that lead us to this day undermines everything we are trying to accomplish,” said Councilman Todd Gloria, of the 3rd District.

Zimmerman and council members say they are taking the findings of the report in stride --as well as some of its recommendations, which include more training and a more thorough record keeping.

Zimmerman announced that the department is committed to both, saying the traffic stop cards will likely be replaced with a computer data entry. SDPD has already implemented training for the new system.

You can read the full report here.

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