California just passed a law requiring local and state law enforcement agencies to track the race of everyone stopped by police.
Supporters of the bill, as always, say it’s a tool to prevent racial profiling in policing.
Critics of the bill say it’s a bureaucratic nightmare that will only make life harder for officers.
“It’s a terrible piece of legislation,” said Lt. Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association and the national trustee for the California Fraternal Order of Police.
“There is no racial profiling. There just isn’t,” he said. “There is criminal profiling that exists.”
Rosa Aqeel, the legislative director of PICO California, a faith-based advocacy group that lobbied heavily for the law’s passage, said it will replace anecdotal evidence on stops and contacts with actual data.
“It creates a set of actual data that will allow us to see where racial profiling is happening,” Aqeel said, describing police officials who deny that racial profiling occurs as out of touch with reality. “All I can say is thank God this bill got signed and we’ll be able to look at the data and see what’s really going on. We should all want to see the data, so we can see how pervasive the problem is.”
Lt. Craig Lally, president of the union that represents Los Angeles police officers, called the new measure “another one of these feel-good laws” that will be impossible to enforce.
“Sometimes when people get pulled over they claim it’s because they are black, or Hispanic or white,” he said. “Unless you can get into the officer’s mind when he’s doing that traffic stop, there is no way to prove it was because of race—unless he or she admits it…. It is impossible to look at statistics and prove racism.”