Study shows San Diego police officers more likely to search blacks, Hispanics during traffic stops

San Diego police
Posted at 7:08 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 22:26:39-05

SAN DIEGO - Black and Hispanic drivers were more likely than white drivers to be searched following a traffic stop, according to a new traffic enforcement study by researchers at San Diego State University.

The report looked at nearly 260,000 traffic stops by San Diego police between 2014 and 2015.

The report found disparities between black and white drivers in vehicle stop data from 2014, noting black drivers were nearly 20 percent more likely to be the subject of a discretionary traffic stop than were white drivers.

According to the report, the same disparities were not present in the 2015 data.

"I was disheartened, alarmed to see in print what many of us in the African-American community and other communities of color have known for years," said Dr. Andre Branch, president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP.

The report also says despite the higher search rates, black and Hispanic drivers were less likely to be found with contraband.

"Admitting that we have a problem needs to come first and then we look at and consider how we're going to fix this problem, how we're going to go about addressing the inequalities that exist," Branch said.

The report also found that records of traffic stops conducted in 2014 and 2015 were often incomplete.

"I am proud of our department personnel who come to work each day with the desire to make a positive difference. We enjoy a tremendous partnership with our community and that is why we are one of the safest big cities in the United States. We want every citizen to feel safe in their community, feel valued in their opinion, and feel listened to by their police department. We will use these recommendations to strengthen, enhance, and foster new relationships with our community we so proudly serve," San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman said in statement to 10News.

The city of San Diego also responded to the report's recommendations. The 11-page response highlighted "additional information to highlight errors, provide context, and enhance clarity."

To read the full report, click here.