By Estephania Baez
San Diego State University researchers completed a months-long investigation into the local Police Department, according to which Hispanics and African-Americans are 50 percent more likely to be arrested than whites.
The study was presented at a City Council meeting last week attended by San Diego Chief of Police Shelley Zimmerman, who assured she would do everything in her power not only to fully combat these numbers, but to become a nationwide model for other police departments.
“I am embarrassed, seeing these numbers, but I will do everything that’s in my hands to straighten this situation, Chief Zimmerman told the Councilmembers. “We will become an example for all [departments] in the United States,” Zimmerman added.
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are demanding immediate answers in light of the fact that the community, particularly Hispanics, are already fearful due to what is going on in the country; they fear for their future and fear being torn away from their families due to the upcoming political climate. As a result, the last thing they want is another factor harming these families.
ACLU demands include expediting the implementation of a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown this year that would require police officers to keep track of the perceived race of traffic and pedestrian stops in order to have better control and provide statistics and results. Other organizations have also joined in the petition.
“What we want is for this bill, which was already passed but will take effect in a few years, to be implemented as soon as possible, because we want to show that what we are living in the streets is true, and this will allow us to know the number of people detained,” shared Rev. Shane Harris, President of the National Action Network’s San Diego Chapter.
Now that the study has been made public, leaders of community and advocacy groups are asking for the procedures applied by law enforcement officers and their commands to be reviewed.
“We want the Mayor and the San Diego Police Chief to make sure that all police officers are properly trained to act as they should,” said advocate Martha Uñon.
They will also be pursuing the passing of a local law that would punish those officers who incur in xenophobic practices.