Oakland ends racial profiling contract with Stanford as it hosts a town hall on racial disparities

The city of Oakland will hold a town hall meeting on Thursday evening aimed at rebuilding trust between the police department and the community.

But the meeting comes just days after the department’s assistant chief made comments about racial profiling in a public forum, saying that certain racial groups commit more crimes. 

The comments made by Leronnne Armstrong who is African-American, caused audible gasps from the audience at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee hearing. He offered his own theory, saying that racial disparities in policing are due to the fact that black people commit most of the crime in Oakland, first reported in the East Bay Express. 

East Bay Express journalist Darwin Bond Graham was in the room and recorded this video of Armstrong speaking:

 "I think what’s important to understand is that when you practice intelligence-based policing, precision-based policing, you have to focus in on those [people] that are committing crimes,” Armstrong said at the meeting. “We have to use intelligence that’s driven by a community's communication, what they’re telling us, who’s calling the police and what are they reporting? Who is the identified suspects in the crimes that we’re following up on. I feel like the disparity obviously exists based on who commits crimes in this city. If we’re focused in our enforcement efforts, we expect our officers to focus in on those individuals engaged in crime, and use intelligence. And so what we’ve done with Dr. Eberhardt’s assistance (from Stanford University) is really better understand how to review the data that we're taking in so we can examine what our officers are engaged in."

Armstrong was referring to a Stanford University study that found Oakland police officers are more likely to stop and search black people than any other racial group.

Members of the Coalition of Police Accountability do not want to continue working with Stanford researchers and criticized the study as a waste of money saying the police need to be responsible for their own reforms. 

Armstrong testified he still wanted to work with Stanford. And he requested that the council continue to employ Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt's team to finalize 2 of 50 recommendations.

But in the end, the Public Safety Committee rejected the $250,000 with Stanford University.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: The town hall will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laney College. The focus of the meeting, which will be attended by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Mayor Libby Schaaf and Eberhardt from Stanford, will be on how police are using some of scientific research and analysis .