San Jose Police Find Silver Lining in Report on Racial Disparities

Black drivers in San Jose are about one-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be pulled over by police for a traffic stop, nine times as likely to get a field interview and twice as likely to get a criminal citation, according to a new report from the University of Texas-El Paso’s Center for Law and Human Behavior.

The study, conducted for the San Jose Police Department, confirmed prior analysis showing that racial minorities are more likely to get stopped, searched and cited than their white counterparts.

Looking at more than 83,000 reports from 2013 to 2016, researchers found that police ordered black motorists to sit on a street curb at three times the rate of whites. Latinos were more than three times as likely as white drivers to get a field interview and, like black motorists, more than twice as likely to get cited. Despite that, black and Latino drivers, like Asians, were less likely than white people to be caught carrying contraband.

Source: University of Texas at El Paso

Source: University of Texas at El Paso

Still, the police department said Friday that the analysis showed fewer racial disparities than expected. That was apparently enough for one researcher to tell the Mercury News, which got advance access to the study and published findings from the city-sponsored report before SJPD even published its own press release, “This is a good news story for San Jose.”

Black pedestrians, for example, were stopped less often than whites, according to the report, and black and white pedestrians saw a similar rate of arrest.

“The good news is SJPD is not a department in crisis,” Chief Eddie Garcia said in a prepared statement Friday.

Police handcuffed Latino pedestrians twice as often as whites, however. Latinos on foot were also three times more likely to get a field interview, but less likely to have the incident result in a police report.

Despite the widespread disparities, Michael Smith, a criminologist and former cop who led the study, said the department has “no apparent cultural issues.”

The research found that an officer’s race didn’t appear to affect the outcome of their interactions with the public. SJPD is more than half white, about 15 percent Asian and 4 percent black. He suggested that the agency should identify disparate stop patterns by individual cops because racial profiling tends to stem from a small number of officers.

Researchers also recommended adopting evidence-based training to improve police interactions. Before ordering the study, Garcia rolled out new training curriculum focused on recognizing and limiting unconscious bias.

The analysis comes at the behest of the former Independent Police Auditor, LaDoris Cordell, who recommended in 2012 that the city start documenting when and why officers order someone to sit on a curb, handcuff them or place them in the back of a cop car for a limited detention. SJPD implemented that directive a year later, expanding the data collection to include pedestrian stops as well.

Garcia will present the study’s findings at the next City Council meeting, which takes place at 1:30pm Feb. 28. Click here to read the entire 177-page report.

Correction: This article previously misstated the number of black drivers pulled over compared to white drivers. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

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


  1. …Report on Racial Disparities

    Hmm-m. Could the fact that Caucasians commit far fewer crimes have anything to do with these “disparities”? Anything at all? Do street cops really worry that whites might be members of MS-13, or the Mexican Mafia, or Nuestra Familia?

    And what about the ‘attitude’ problem plenty of blacks have? It’s a problem that’s being exacerbated by hate groups like BLM, which is lionized by the media instead of being properly condemned. Could deliberate rabble-rousing like that have anything to do with who gets handcuffed more often? Surely Chief Eddie has an opinion. Just wait a sec, while he turns his best side to the cameras…

    The “racial profiling” carp has been going on for way too long now. Airports still screen Granny, but they dare not screen too many young Middle Eastern-looking males, lest they get labeled “Ray-y-c-c-ist!!”

    Meanwhile, Islam still wages war on America, and foreign murderers are still given Sanctuary—while the incessant media drumbeat goes on: Trump: BA-A-A-AD!

    When has Big Media ever said anything good about the new President? Instead, they all parrot the same daily talking points for hating on him, but none of their reasons mention the fact that he’s been President for all of a month and a half. He’s just ipso facto BAD. See? That’s the Narrative—and they’d best not stray from those marching orders.)

    So let’s cut to the chase: What, EXACTLY, will Chief Eddie and LaDoris say must be done about these ‘disparities’?

    Will they acknowledge the reasons for them? Will they give specific recommendations based on common sense? Will they include rank-and-file input from the cops on the street? And input from the taxpaying public that’s always expected to pay the cost?

    Or is this just more P.R. hoopla?

  2. Up next, a brave journalist from the SJ Inside magazine sneaks into a secret meeting of SJPD’s chapter of KKK. Dry cleaners were not happy. Back to you Josh.

  3. Well it’s obvious to me, Chief Fast Eddie is one of the those *Hispanics of any race*, must be leftist code for he’s really a *White Racist Cop*.

    You still haven’t pointed out exactly why all these guilty white people and innocent all other people were stopped in the first place.

    Jennifer I’d be careful out there as there is a 16.8% chance that one of Fast Eddie’s stormtrooper’s of many colors may pull you over for an interview, because you just look guilty as a white person, and twice as likely to be carrying contraband. They might get lucky!

  4. This story is akin to going to someone’s house that has a lot of cats and then reporting that there was cat hair “all over the furniture. Something must be done – this is so UNFAIR. Whine, whine.” is this an example of the media bias we are starting to see more of? Trump is issuing a new immigration policy that will be almost identical to the policies put in place by the Obama Admin (which deported a great number of illegal immigrants). But the Obama admin never took any heat from the media like Trump will even thought its the same damn policy.

    • If Trump’s policies are identical to Obama’s, why’d you hate Obama? And didn’t Trump promise radical change? Making America great again? If his policies are identical to Obama’s, is he not delivering on his promise? Then why do you still like Trump?

  5. “No statistical differences were found in the likelihood that minority citizens received a criminal citation compared to White citizens after considering all other available factors.
     Minority citizens were statistically indistinguishable from White citizens with regard to their likelihood of an arrest or an arrest by warrant after considering all other available factors.

     No statistical relationship was discovered between citizen racial/ethnic groups and the likelihood of a search or the discovery of contraband following a search during a pedestrian stop.”

  6. How to get from fairness to outrageous discrimination in 4 easy steps.

    1. Drastically reduce commute-time traffic enforcement by gutting the motorcycle and radar units. This removes from car-stop statistics tens of thousands of residents belonging to the demographically significant, and largely law-abiding group of 9 to 5 workers.

    2. Cut the patrol staff by one-third while simultaneously demoralizing officers through pay cuts and politically-motivated vilification, thus reducing the average beat cop’s motivation to write tickets, and his/her interaction with residents suspected of nothing other than driving infractions, to zero.

    3. Ignore that the racial makeup of the city tilts as younger adults — both resident and non-resident, take over the city at night for the kind of alcohol-fueled and clandestine activities that attract police attention and demand disproportional staffing.

    4. Ignore the fact that car stops represent the most effective strategy for suppressing gangs, burglaries, and robberies — criminal activities too serious for even an understaffed, demoralized patrol staff to ignore; both activities dominated by two distinct ethnic groups: blacks and Hispanics.

    Just in case you think the first two factors unimportant, consider the following comparison of the statistics cited here by Ms. Wadsworth versus those compiled eighteen years ago, before the cuts in police staffing and pay. According to Steven J. Muffler’s “Racial Profiling: Issues, Data, and Analyses,” both blacks and Hispanics were stopped by SJPD at slightly above twice the rate, per capita, of whites — a disparity one-fourth the nine times reported by UT El Paso, and one easily justified by the color of crime (factors 3 & 4).

    It takes a real idiot to believe that complex human interactions can be understood by simply counting beans or comparing colors, but we are unfortunately surrounded and ruled by real idiots, so get ready SJPD for some additional training, another round of community outreach, and a new assault on the character of your officers.

  7. in light of the comments posted here it would be really nice to have Jennifer respond with any facts, reason or logic that backs up her initial story. A reply would be nice Jennifer. You have demonstrated in the past that you are a good reporter so please respond. It’s the only way to show that you are not a part of the bias media out to trash people or groups merely for political vendetta.

  8. Perhaps a better title for SJI Comments after each report would be Idiots Unite!
    Go outside and breath the air and enjoy life! Nobody is listening to your rants.

  9. Yes, Jennifer, reply! Crawl under our rock and talk to us trolls! Reading that report is too hard. (And we don’t want to challenge our ignorance and prejudice, we just want to rant.)

  10. Some day people will learn that CHARACTER not COLOR is what gets you noticed.
    Maybe these minorities were doing something wrong, and that is why they were stopped.

    I’ve seen way too many trucks, cars, driven by people who were not safe looking. I have gotten tired of this attitude of everyone is against blacks, browns, yellows. Maybe get your crap together and act like adults, stop committing crimes, driving unsafe, acting all tough, encouraging gang attitudes, then, and then maybe you won’t get pulled over.


    Can’t wait for more cities to become Sanctuary Cities. It is helping our society, right?

  11. “Correction: This article previously misstated the number of black drivers pulled over compared to white drivers. San Jose Inside regrets the error.”

    I bet you do SJI, but it better supports your bias and narrative to write the outcome you desire.

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