LBPD surveyed in report by California’s Racial & Identity Profiling Advisory Board

Illustration by Emma DiMaggio

The State of California’s Racial & Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board released its fourth annual report on racial and identity profiling by police departments in the state along with suggestions meant to help remove bias in enforcement. The Long Beach Police Department was among the 25 California police departments which participated in the survey for the latest 2021 RIPA report.

To participate in the survey, LBPD answered 26 questions regarding the following topics:

• use of stop data for accountability purposes
• adoption of model bias-free policing policy language
• actions in response to best practices recommendations regarding civilian complaint procedures
• stop data analysis practices and resources.

RIPA looked at which departments have a “stand alone bias free policing policy,” which specifically defines and prohibits racial/identity profiling. LBPD was among the departments that do, although the special order which meets RIPA’s policy qualification is relatively new, issued in Sept. 2020.

The special order will be in place until the information it contains is officially transferred to LBPD’s Department Manual. When the Signal Tribune reached out to LBPD to ask when this would be done, the department responded that it didn’t know.

“We do not have a timeline for the policy to be included in our manual, but this directive will be in effect like the special order states until it’s formally in our Department manual,” LBPD Public Information Officer Arantxa Chavarria said.

Some related content can be found under the Department’s Policy Manual in sections “3.2 General Responsibilities – Employees” and “3.4 Conduct Toward the Public,” but these are not stand alone policies addressing racial and identity profiling.

The Sept. 2020 special order provides LBPD with specific definitions of these terms: biased policing, fair and bias free treatment, police services, racial profiling, and specified characteristics.

While the RIPA report stated that the special order on bias free policing by LBPD had not been made available to the public online, LBPD confirmed that this was incorrect. The special order can be viewed on the City’s website.

Neither the policies outlined in the manual or the special order discuss yearly training to combat bias/racial profiling, accountability for officers who commit biased policing, or stop data analysis, according to RIPA.

When asked how LBPD currently trains officers in bias free policing, Chavarria provided the following statement:

“As for training, it is provided to all officers at their basic training academy and in the past 5-years over 19 hours of training related to race like implicit bias, procedural justice, and biased based policing have been provided at advanced officer training, which is a requirement for all ranks.”

The special order does require that LBPD supervisors make sure employees are complying with the bias free policies, that they investigate alleged violations, and that they protect other employees who report on incidents of bias policing from retaliation.

Although the 2020 special order requires supervisors to investigate alleged violations in the policy, LBPD was vaguely listed as taking “other corrective action or discipline,” rather than providing additional training or conducting investigations when its “various methods of holding staff accountable to their bias-free policing policy” were listed by RIPA.

LBPD issued a separate special order on stop data collection in Dec. 2018, which requires all identifiable information to be removed from the data and for a quarterly audit to be conducted by the Administration Bureau.

While LBPD reported that they analyze stop data provided by RIPA, it was not among the police departments that specified to the advisory board whether it was currently analyzing the reasons for stops, actions taken during stops, data regarding searches, and the results of stops. However, the department reported that it was working on developing a stop data dashboard to analyze types of stops made by officers, reasons for stops, searches conducted, and actions taken during stops, which is geared only towards informing commanding officers within the LBPD.

LBPD reported that it collects additional data besides what is mandated by RIPA. LBPD keeps track of whether “the perception of the identity characteristics of the stopped person was made prior to the detention.” It also collects data on whether people stopped by LBPD officers are residents of Long Beach, if they are attending a special event and if that event is “Action Plan Related Activity.”

LBPD reported to RIPA that they were looking into finding an academic institution to help them analyze the RIPA data. In comparison, San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reported that they have already contracted an independent analysis by a non-profit research organization. Both the Los Angeles and Oakland police departments are already working with an academic institution to analyze the data.

According to the RIPA report, LBPD was among six agencies which “indicated that there were some barriers to analyzing the data or exporting it to analyze it, including difficulty in creating reports, auditing the data, or integrating the data collection systems with other departments systems.”

The department also reported challenges in identifying benchmark data sets.

LBPD told RIPA it is reviewing data of the stops made by it’s officers with its own staff.

A statement by LBPD included in the RIPA report says “The department is currently reviewing the data set with Executive Staff to analyze benchmarks and trends and identify next steps.”

While LBPD was among 13 out of the 25 police departments surveyed by RIPA that have a civilian review board, known in Long Beach as the Citizen Police Complaint Commission, but it does not discuss with it the findings learned from analyzing RIPA data.

LBPD was not among the six police departments listed in the RIPA report that share their stop data with the public.

According to the RIPA report, nine out of the 182 complaints filed against LBPD officers in 2019 were over alleged instances of profiling.

In comparison, eight complaints out of 210 in 2018, 12 complaints out of 168 in 2017, and four complaints out of 224 in 2016 involved accusations of profiling against LBPD officers.

Bar graph comparing numbers of complaints against police officers in LBPD and other departments from 2016 to 2019. (Courtesy of RIPA Board 2021 Report)

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