Today the ACLU called on Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan to issue an Executive Order requiring the Los Angeles Police Department to collect data on the race and ethnicity of motorists stopped by police officers. The ACLU earlier this week requested similar action from the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Earlier this year, the California state senate unanimously passed SB 78, the "California Traffic Stops Statistics Act," and the state assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill 61-16. On Tuesday, Governor Davis vetoed the bill. Today he called on Mayor Riordan to require the LAPD to collect the data.

"This is no excuse for the Governor vetoing the statewide measure; the legislation was essential and we were very disappointed in his action," said ACLU Associate Director Elizabeth Schroeder. "The whole point of the bill was to determine whether the problem is occurring on a widespread scale, so that it could be dealt with proactively and responsibly. In light of the Governor's veto, it is urgent that Mayor Riordan act immediately to require the LAPD to collect this information. This is especially true given the Department's earlier rejection of both the Governor's earlier request voluntarily to collect the data and opposition to SB 78."

President Clinton recently issued an Executive Order requiring all federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting data, and challenged state legislatures across the country to pass similar bills. Two states - Connecticut and North Carolina - mandate data collection. Thirty-four California law enforcement agencies have voluntarily agreed to collect data on the race of motorists stopped by the police, including the largest traffic enforcement agency in the world, the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Four of the five largest city law enforcement agencies in the state voluntarily collect data - San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and San Diego. The LAPD is the only large agency that refuses to collect the data.

"Racial profiling is wrong and it is unconstitutional," added Schroeder. "Given the strong public perception that racial profiling is taking place in traffic stops in Los Angeles, it is essential that we have the data to make a true determination of whether or not the police are violating the civil rights of the people it is sworn to protect.

Date

Wednesday, September 29, 1999 (All day)

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The ACLU condemns Governor Davis's veto of SB 78 - known as the "DWB - Driving While Black or Brown Bill," which requires law enforcement to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of all drivers stopped by the police. The bill (formally "California Traffic Stops Statistics Act"), authored by Senator Kevin Murray, overwhelmingly passed the Assembly 61-16 and the Senate 29-0.

"By vetoing this historic bill Governor Davis is turning his back on California's communities of color" said Ramona Ripston, ACLU-SC Executive Director. "For decades, motorists have been stopped by police simply because of the color of their skin. This bill would have been a small, but important step, in putting an end to racist police practices throughout the state."

In his veto message, Governor Davis tried to take credit for "ordering" the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to collect similar data. In fact, the CHP had already publicly volunteered to collect this data - following similar moves by state police agencies in Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Oregon and elsewhere.

In addition, Governor Davis' belated statement encouraging voluntary data collection by law enforcement agencies comes almost four full months after President Clinton issued the same challenge. In fact, 34 California agencies have already answered the President's challenge with voluntary data collection programs, but hundreds of other California agencies - including those with some of the most severe police-community relations problems in the state (Los Angeles, Riverside) - have stubbornly refused.

"Those agencies who still remain in denial on this issue are simply not going to respond to the Governor's timid encouragement," said Ripston. "That is why a comprehensive statewide bill was crucial. His veto amounts to a `wink and a nod' to law enforcement that they don't have to take this issue seriously."

Ripston called it "disingenuous" that Governor Davis would publicly claim that requiring statewide data collection on traffic stops would set a "bad precedent" of the state placing mandates on local agencies. For decades the state penal code has required local law enforcement agencies to collect and report a dizzying array of statistics on various activities. This bill would have simply added four new categories of data on traffic enforcement practices for just two years to a detailed statistical report long-published by the state on an annual basis.

"In fact, it is the Governor's veto that is establishing the horrible precedent," added John Crew, Director of the ACLU Police Practices Project. "Governor Davis is sending a message to local law enforcement agencies across the state that the issue of racial profiling is not important enough for the state to assert its authority to protect the civil rights of all

Californians against racist police practices" he said. "Decades ago, southern sheriffs like Bull Connor argued that local officials should be left to voluntarily address any local civil rights problems on their own. We are stunned that Governor Davis would be claiming -- in 1999 -- that it sets a `bad precedent' for the state to require local agencies to even study a crucial and widespread civil rights problem."

The ACLU announced it is continuing its statewide hotline 1-877-DWB- STOP. (The Spanish language hotline is 1-877-PARALOS, 1-877-727-2567). Since the hotline's initiation in October 1998, more than 2000 persons have called to report their stories of race-based police traffic stops.

The bill was supported by the American Bar Association, the California Attorney General, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, NAACP, and over fifty leading civil rights organizations in the state. Minority law enforcement organizations including the National Black Police Association, National Latino Peace Officers Association, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives also supported the bill.

Date

Tuesday, September 28, 1999 (All day)

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Today the ACLU of Southern California called on Mayor Riordan to establish immediately an independent body empowered with broad investigative and subpoena powers to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"This newest corruption scandal has the potential to undo any progress made in restoring public confidence in the LAPD since the Rodney King beating." said ACLU-SC Associate Director Elizabeth Schroeder. "Mayor Riordan has been tough on crime: now is the time for him to be equally tough on police corruption."

Though LAPD Chief Bernard Parks has taken appropriate action and set up a Board of Inquiry to conduct a broad-based review of the department, the ACLU believes that the LAPD's internal review mechanism is wholly inadequate to investigate and root out systemic problems. Independent bodies have been used successfully in big cities to conduct thorough investigations into allegations of police abuse and corruption. In 1970 the Mayor of New York City appointed the Knapp Commission to investigate widespread corruption in the NYPD. In 1991 Mayor Bradley appointed the Christopher Commission to investigate the LAPD. Most recently, in 1993, New York City Mayor David Dinkens appointed the Mollen Commission to investigate new allegations of corruption in the NYPD.

Date

Friday, September 24, 1999 (All day)

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