California law enforcement rejected nearly every racial profiling complaint received

Though numerous complaints have been filed, most that allege any racial incidents are not upheld

Despite documented evidence, California police agencies do not agree some of them may have an issue with racial profiling.

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Between 2016 to 2019 there were 3,500 racial profiling complaints filed against the state’s police agencies but only 49 were upheld, or less than 2%. Out of 250 agencies with a minimum of one complaint, 92% upheld none, according to an analysis of the California Department of Justice per the Los Angeles Times.

“You know the undercurrent of what is occurring is discriminatory, but being able to prove that is different,” said Walter Katz, vice president of criminal justice policy for Arnold Ventures a philanthropic foundation that focuses on social issues. “Really, in the absence of a statement by the officer or deputy proving racial animus, proving such complaints is really difficult.”

A 2016 Stanford University study discovered that 60% of people stopped in traffic by Oakland police were Black despite only making up 28% of the population in the city. This year, a report from the LAPD’s inspector general discovered that Black drivers were more likely to be stopped despite white drivers being more likely to hold contraband after being searched.

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But the shocking numbers do not convince Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Satterfield who says the California Department of Justice’s numbers are being oversimplified. He claims if a racial complaint was not sustained that does not mean dismissal and an internal investigation probably discovered that an “employee’s conduct could have been improved.”

But regardless of the lack of justice, folks are still trying to hold California law enforcement accountable for its actions.

Back in February, Chris Martin, a director of legal services for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles was arrested after he allegedly matched the description of a shooting suspect who was a “Black man in dark clothing.”  He was later released but filed a complaint because he says he was arrested for being Black.

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“I still have to file the complaint, even though I know that it’s highly likely to be futile, at least as far as whether or not the department is going to hold itself accountable,” said Martin. “We know that they won’t.”

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