Study: Racial disparities found in police treatement in San Jose

Black drivers in San Jose are almost three times as likely to be curb-sat than white drivers and nine times more likely to be interviewed after a vehicle stop, according to a study released today by the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The Police Department responded positively to the study, saying in a statement that the analysis showed "fewer racial disparities than expected."

Hispanics were shown to be over three times more likely than whites to be interviewed after a vehicle stop and about twice as likely to be stopped compared to their overall representation.

Blacks and Hispanics were about twice as likely as whites to be searched during a vehicle stop and more than twice as likely to receive a criminal citation, despite that Hispanics, like Asians, were less likely than whites to be found carrying contraband.

Hispanics were more than twice as likely than whites to be handcuffed during a pedestrian stop, and more likely than white pedestrians to be stopped at all.

Black and Asian pedestrians were both stopped less frequently than whites, and less often than would be expected given their representation among violent crime suspects reported to police.

Michael Smith, a UTEP criminologist and former police officer, led the study of vehicle and pedestrian stop data recorded between September 2013 and March 2016 after San Jose police contracted with UTEP to conduct the study last year.

In the study, Smith recommends that police identify racially disparate stop patterns by individual officers and address them early, explaining that racial profiling is often driven by the practice of a relatively small number of officers in the department.

Researchers on the study also recommend that the department adopt evidence-based training for improving police-citizen interactions and disseminate better information about crime patterns as they intersect with race in the city.

Smith is quoted in the police statement as saying that the department has "no apparent cultural issues," despite the disparities published in his analysis.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.