5 California police agencies, including San Jose, show bias: auditor

A report released by the State Auditor found evidence of officer bias in some of California's largest police departments.

The report looked at several law enforcement groups, including the San Jose and Stockton police departments, and found evidence of bias against women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. Furthermore, none of the departments had a clear plan to address the pattern of prejudice.

"Although we did not find officers who were members of hate groups, some officers made statements indicating that they support problematic groups," the report said, warning that some of the content readers may find disturbing. 

Social media posts by Stockton officers show racial stereotypes, and were demeaning toward women and people with disabilities.

One example of the prejudiced behavior shows social media posts where Stockton officers spout racial stereotypes, and were demeaning toward women and people with disabilities. Another shows a conversation between two San Jose police officers making derogatory comments about a Vietnamese landlord before being called to settle a tenant dispute.

Example of police bias in a report issued by the State Auditor.

The report includes a figure of an officer filming Black people in jail and sarcastically making comments about their sagging pants. In a separate video, the officer uses the n-word several times while repeating song lyrics and sarcastically referencing George Floyd. The officer in that case allegedly received a temporary pay reduction for the behavior.

Another example of police bias given by the State Auditor.

The report goes on to say that none of the departments they investigated showed any clear plan of stopping the pattern of bias.

"Officers should exercise that authority with fairness, impartiality, and professionalism," the report said. "In particular, their conduct should not be improperly influenced by an individual’s identity characteristics, including their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation."

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Several recommendations were made by the Auditor, including thorough checks of social media accounts of prospective hires.

The San José Police Department largely accepted the recommendations of the audit and said it was working to address the noted shortcomings in how it handled bias. The Stockton Police Department said it would be reviewing the recommendations and implementing needed changes.