By the Numbers: $1,820
Back in 1999, the San Jose Police Department led the charge in collecting racial data about the people it stops and arrests.
Original figures, based on a few months of traffic stops, implied racial profiling: black people made up 4.5 percent of the population but 7 percent of drivers stopped, versus white people who made up 43 percent of the population but 29 percent of stops.
“The community asked for the numbers and we gave them,” then-Chief William Lansdowne said at the time. “Up until this point, all we had were anecdotes. We can’t be afraid to look at the statistics.”
So is the SJPD now afraid? The department stopped analyzing such information in 2008, according to a recent report by the San Francisco Chronicle. When the newspaper made a public records request for the last five years of racial data, police said it would cost $1,820—broken down to $91 an hour for 20 hours of work.
“Trust me,” Lt. Anthony Mata told the Chron, “there’s so much that I want to do with the data that we do have. … However, because of time and the amount of work it’s going to take, we can’t.”
If a records request is too time consuming, perhaps one of San Jose’s intrepid City Council members could request the data. Or, maybe one of those newly hired civilian cops can drum up the findings. And if it really does take 20 hours to pull together reports of data that has already been collected, maybe the city should simply re-examine the way it compiles that information in the first place.