Report: SJPD Targets Latinos, Blacks Disproportionately

The longstanding perception that San Jose police disproportionately target certain racial minorities was confirmed last week. While African Americans and Latinos make up about a third of the city, they account for two-thirds of traffic stops.

Last year, the San Jose Police Department began tracking detailed information about every time an officer stopped a civilian, even if that encounter didn’t end in an arrest. The policy was reluctantly adopted at the behest of Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell to address public concerns of racial profiling.

The resulting data, reported over the weekend by the Mercury News, offers the most detailed breakdown of police detentions in the city’s history. It also appears to validate suspicions from local civil rights groups that police single out blacks and Latinos as suspects more than their white and Asian counterparts.

Police report that African Americans, who make up 3 percent of San Jose’s population, account for 8 percent of traffic stops; Latinos make up 33 percent of the population but 57 percent of police stops. More than 75 percent of people frisked and had their car searched were black or Latino. Just 6 percent of all stops ended in an arrest—7 percent each for blacks and Latinos, 3 percent for Asians and 5 percent of whites.

Though targeted less by police, whites were more likely to carry drugs (16 percent) than African Americans (14 percent) and Latinos (12 percent).

Police defended the numbers by saying they target high-crime areas that tend to be more populated with Latino residents.

Mayor Sam Liccardo issued a bold statement with calls to action, but also a bit of pandering in an attempt to soften the blow. Liccardo called SJPD “the nation’s most professional, highly-trained police officers,” before pivoting to a push for equipping officers with body cameras within the year. Police Chief Larry Esquivel has sought to delay body cameras until late 2016—most likely long after he retires.

“The analysis made available to me raises significant questions that deserve further scrutiny and public discussion,” Liccardo said later in his statement, adding that the city has agreed to hire an outside consultant to conduct an independent review of the data.

Some weeks ago, Cordell called it a glaring red flag that the SJPD has never once upheld a citizen complaint about bias-based policing and urged the city to broaden the scope of inquiry into those allegations. Liccardo echoed her recommendation, saying he plans to expand civilian oversight of police.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. ” While African Americans and Latinos make up about a third of the city, they account for two-thirds of traffic stops.”

    And how much crime do they account for? When the majority of crime is committed by an ethnicity that makes up the majority of the neighborhood’s demographic, that’s not called “racial profiling”. It’s called “law of probability”.

    • Law of probability is right. An just cause blacks an Mexicans are poor you don’t have to act like it. We don’t see white folks or Asians rioting. how about we stop doin the damn crime or getting stupid with cops. Then maybe we won’t be profiled.

      • Oh cmon people. The beautiful thing about San Jose is no matter what the origin, we give all citizens equal opportunity to act like jackholes on any occasion, no matter what the ethnicity.

        Steve Dinkins gives an interesting perspective during Cinco De Mayo in 1997. Sure, it’s a Mexican Holiday, but looking at the video I see White, Blacks, Latino’s, Asians, and everyone in between smashing bus stops and throwing bottles at the SJPD. I bet there’s an Italian or two in there as well.

        • Disproportionate? I’ll show you disproportionate. Check out the video starting about 4:06. Did anyone see a whole lot of white folks rioting or looting? Everyone trashing the VTA stops and trashing/looting 4th Street Chevron and the cars parked there were POS Mexican heritage, born in the USA thugs, Nortenos, except perhaps the one black looking guy who took 3 punches to break the glass at the VTA stop. And like most liquored up barrio morons, they were proud of what they were doing and wanted to get on camera. Does anyone know if this footage was used to arrest any of those A-holes? How about that jagoff who represented as Union City Westside? He should have been easy to find.

      • Yup, we see rioting among many. Boston Tea Party and French Revolution come to mind. Chicago’s Haymarket Sq? Northern Ireland? Many more in modern Europe too. Army called out in Thailand and marshall law declared. Another about 3 weeks ago in Korea over the ferry sinking.

          • You can parse the matter so that it fits your arguments.

            Last time I checked, Boston & Chicago are in the US. The Boston riot precipitated a war. Technically two wars since the British returned in 1812. Eight died in the Haymarket Sq. riot. The white defendants in the “Chicago 7” federal trial were charged with “conspiracy and inciting to riot”.

            Asians, AFAIK,have been the targets of riots in the US rather instigators. The Fairmont sits on what was once SJ’s Chinatown before it was torched forcing residents to flee.

            You neglected to include semites and hispanics to bolster your point. Am unaware of Jews, arabs, and hispanics burning & looting their neighborhoods in the US (but elsewhere yes).

            Let us know if you need additional help with facts to make a tortured case demonizing blacks.

          • You don’t even what ethnicity your talking to, I’m not white.
            Your actually going to bring up the Boston tea party lmfao. We are talking here an now present day(an the nazis created Mercedes during ww1 better not drive one could be contributing to hitler wtf?) If blacks an Latinos were not commiting most of the crimes then they would not be profiled. Google all the facts you want too. Ive just gotta look outside an see who contributes to society an who doesn’t.

  2. The Census data for demographics in San Jose is largely misleading because so many of our residents are immigrants and do not want to be caught during a count — and sent back, ever. It would not surprise me if nearly 55 percent of our residents were Hispanic (non-white), explaining the high level of police stops within their community since they represent the majority of residents in San Jose.

  3. I am very curious to know the racial data of victims and suspects in San Jose.

    I am very curious to know how many stopped were NOT from San Jose.

  4. SJI, you’re late.

    The study of crime is composed of a multitude of variables, none of which are based upon a system of equal distribution or fairness amongst race or ethnicity.

    The police must operate within the confines of the 14th amendment. Criminals do not.

    Rather than simply regurgitating articles published by the Mercury, why not take the above referenced statistics and compare them with a 5 year average of San Jose’s arrest data? That would be interesting. Why not compare it with nationwide Victim data from the FBI? That would also be interesting.. And I can tell you, it would not serve the currently popular, race-baiting agenda.

    • SR: Thanks – excellent point and hats off to Patrick for the PDF link.

      Yes, the SJMN piece exploits the narrative that law enforcement is biased, but omits some key aspects:
      a. How do law enforcement arrests compare with justice administration sentencing? SCC’s jail population,CA’s & US prison racial breakdown is disproportionately non-white & non-asian. If blacks and hispanics are unfairly treated by SJPD, then does it follow that they are in the court system too?

      Haven’t been able to locate racial breakdown data in SCC’s jails, but my volunteer work at Elmwood & Hedding St jails leads me to conclude that the arrest data is consistent with what I’ve seen in the jails.

      b. Public school scholastic results are disproportionate too. SJ & SF have large hispanic populations. Both cities have graduation and test scores of hispanics at about half those of whites. SJ & SF differ less than 1%. Schools that are predominately white or predominately hispanic mirror school system averages too. Again, SF & SJ differ by less than 1%.

      Are we then to conclude that racial bias permeates schools in addition to law enforcement and justice?

      c. How does SJPD arrest statistics compare to PDs in California’s 3 other largest cities? Are their departments as racially diverse as SJPD?

      I think it’s important to review law enforcement metrics. Unfortunately, neither Chief Esquivel nor Mayor Liccardo offer any rebuttal to shoddy journalism.

      • Taxpayer,

        It’s almost as though “news” agencies are just running these sensational headlines for the purpose of selling more ads and getting more web traffic hits. The media is having a feeding frenzy as a result of the current national obsession with race and law enforcement… It’s sickening considering that this sensationalism is doing nothing to improve dialogue and lead to productive conversation.

        …I digress.

        You bring up a great point that if in fact the jail populations closely mirror the SJPD “proactive enforcement” stats, racial bias must also permeate the justice system. I would even go a step further and suggest that if the justice system is assumed to be biased, then the laws themselves and ongoing legislation must then also be racially biased. I’m sure the ACLU could string that together..

        Let’s take the crime of auto theft as a theoretical case study. I’ll reverse engineer the argument here just to illustrate how race & a widespread, rampant, crime can become intertwined.

        – Auto theft overwhelmingly occurs with Japanese vehicles, (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) made between 1989-1999. These vehicles typically last a long time, are resold many times and frequently found for reasonable, attainable prices for people seeking cheap transportation. While these vehicles can be found in many neighborhoods, they tend to be popular amongst low income neighborhoods because of their low cost and reliability. Based upon my individual observations and on the job experience, Suspects arrested for auto theft, are disproportionately male and Hispanic. I would say at a conservative minimum estimate, Hispanic males account for 50% of all people arrested for Auto theft.

        In most instances, officers discover stolen vehicles from license plate information. This is almost always located prior to “enforcement stops” being conducted. So I ask, is the crime of auto theft inherently racist because the arrest statistics say so? Or is it attributable to a mixture of environmetal, social and economic variables which happen to all have nothing to do with race?

        • Lending some credibility to claims of sentencing bias, there were tougher federal sentencing differences between crack & cocaine powder. As explained at the Congressional Black Caucus lobbied for tougher crack sentencing due to the impact in black communities.

          So yes there were differences passed at the behest of black representatives. The sentencing differences were extinguished in 2010 at the federal level, but not at state levels. Most states didn’t distinguish, but 13 states continue to have tougher penalties for crack.

          Also interesting is that the Bay Area News Group (SJMN’s owner) is decidedly white. No people of color in any meetings I’ve had with the editorial team. Unlike Google, Facebook, Apple, and the Mercury News, SJPD more closely aligns to the community they serve and protect.

  5. Where are the statistics for Indian and Asian Arrests? Are those numbers off too? Do we have to arrest some of them immediately to throw the curve back to normal?

  6. The longstanding perception that San Jose police disproportionately target certain racial minorities was confirmed last week.
    Patrick nice chart showing the disproportionate amount of hispanics committing crimes! I guess its too much for waddlesworth and crew to do some comprehensive reporting! This is the same vomit i saw in the other rag!

  7. “Last year, the San Jose Police Department began tracking detailed information about every time an officer stopped a civilian, even if that encounter didn’t end in an arrest.” This “tracking information” is self reported by the officers themselves after the conclusion of a contact, call for service, or arrest. If the officers were so corrupt and racist, as the very racist Cordell exclaims, it would be far easier for the cops to clear every citizen contact as being with a Caucasian person. Not only that, but the SJPD is a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual preference and it is idiotic to suggest they are targeting a certain minority. Liccardo has proposed using “predictive software” at the police department. That is a fancy term for taking patrol officers out of relatively safer areas in the city such as Willow Glen and Almaden and having those patrol officers work only in the higher crime areas, primarily the east side. The east side is primarily minorities. If this ever happens, folks like Cordell will be thrilled as the out of proportion contact numbers will skyrocket. The politicians are way too afraid and gutless to bring this up, or look at arrest stats of calls for service, where a member of a household called police, and instead pander by agreeing cops are racist.

  8. That is an interesting picture that SJI chose.

    The picture doesn’t depict SJPD officers even though the caption starts off with, “Data on San Jose police…” – the uniforms and visible equipment are all wrong.

    The Officer holding the ‘cuffs appears to be white as doest the guy in the tank top with all the tat’s and hands in the air even though the caption concludes with “… stops show that certain minorities are targeted at a much higher rate than others.” – it’s really hard to take the article’s allegations seriously when the picture doesn’t even remotely match the content, much less the caption. It’s hard to say for sure but that pistol looks like it might be pointed in the general direction of the officer on the left holding the cuff’s. Pretty weak SJI…

    • Excellent point, MW.

      Seems like Metro’s overall quality has declined. It’s been reduced to uncritical re-reporting of local TV & Mercury News items, self-aggradizements by Board of Education member Joseph Di Salvo, and most recently a provocative fantasy by an Elephant Bar employee. Metro is continuously scooped by a lone writer at the snarky Daily Fetch blog.

      Very sad given the previous excellent reporting about sketchy dealings by Cindy Chavez, George Shirakawa, and others. Daily Fetch claims Josh Koehn is eager to leave Metro and interviewing elsewhere.

  9. Employees of news organizations writing articles for publication grossly overrepresented when compared to the overall population writing articles for publication

    A true statement, but meaningless. Sad that the Metro simply plays this off as a controversy between interested parties as opposed to the reality that this hornet’s nest was disingenuously kicked by the Mecury News in order to create controversy they could then report on.

  10. The data is misrepresented, as any good statistical analysis report can be. the comparison should not be the percentage of ethnic people stopped by the police as compared to the total population of SJ. This just tells you which groups are suspected of committing crimes. The comparison should be the percentage of ethnic people stopped by the police as compared to the ethnicity of persons reported by victim’s of crimes who call police and the suspects who are actually arrested.

  11. So arressting the bad guys is not good? Perhaps having Mayor Liccardo and council members walk the streets of East SJ late at night without police or media following close behind will enlighten their perception of crime statistics and we can all move forward to clean up high crime areas.

  12. Research.
    I went looking for some coverage on Chuck Reed, and his some 40,000 bucks he was made to pay back to the city. I seem to recall he was also giving some folks , money that was not his to give. Some one did an excellent job of scrubbing the web of his misgivings. Curiosity has me wanting to know how this happens. Looks like somebody was grooming the old dog to look like a cute Poodle. Any thoughts on WHY?& WHO?

  13. > Some one did an excellent job of scrubbing the web of his misgivings. Curiosity has me wanting to know how this happens.

    You’re looking at this the wrong way, Blackie.

    Hillary would have simply said: “There is no evidence that blah, blah, blah …” and left it at that. To expect that there would be unscrubbed evidence makes you a conspiracy nut.

  14. > Now go get the Real story, and make yourself useful.

    You jest said the evidence was scrubbed from the web, Blackie.

    Now, where is anyone supposed to get “the Real story”?

    Enough innuendo and eye winking. If you KNOW something, SAY something.

    If you DON’T say something, we can all guess at the reason: YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!

    • > The Mercury News may still have it in their Archives. What a great treasure hunt!

      Hunt for what, Blackie?

      I saw a story in the Mercury about a leprechaun who found a pot of gold somewhere near the sewage plant. It’s probably still in the Merc archives.

      Go find it and we’ll split the gold.

  15. BiINGO !
    $ 39,000.00 Repaid by Reed. However only after opponent Cindy Chavez brings this to the surface, during the election of 2006. Lee Price, City Clerk, “Declares”, NO PROBLEMA! He says, It’s a common practice among the city council offices,.
    YIKES !
    Hey Bubbles, How do you like me now.
    Can You feel the Sunshine?????

    Oh Yea, just common practice among CITY MAYORS !.
    YIKES !

  16. Meyer Weed,, \
    It’s late, but I will read the rest of your post in the morning.
    I have read enough to satisfy, my suspicions , about our MR SUNSHINE!
    Tom’s 6 Million, for his Chevron Gas Station, at San Pedro Square, is but one more of Reeds dysfunctional decisions.
    Thank You Weed, This is truly an Memorial Day week end!

  17. WOW !

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