Blacks, Latinos in California cited for minor offenses at higher rates than whites: study

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Blacks and Latinos in California are cited for minor non-traffic infractions at far higher rates than their white counterparts, a new study found.

The findings, released Wednesday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, found that black adults were up to 9.7 times more likely to be cited for minor offenses like loitering or jaywalking.

Latinos, meanwhile, were up to 5.8 times more likely to receive citations than white adults in the same jurisdiction.

The study analyzed data for non-traffic citations issued by California’s 15 largest law enforcement agencies between July 2018 and December 2019.

“We spend millions of dollars discriminatorily enforcing these non-traffic infraction laws against black and Latinx people,” Elisa Della-Piana, the group’s legal director, said in a statement.

“The fines and fees are largely uncollectable, but the debt burden, warrants and arrests cause significant harm.”

In Los Angeles, black residents were 3.8 times more likely to be cited for non-traffic infractions than whites between 2017 and 2019, receiving 30 percent of all such citations by the LAPD during that time span despite comprising 7 percent of the population, the study found.

The LAPD also issued 63 percent of all “loitering-standing” citations to black residents, the study found.

Data from police in Long Beach, meanwhile, showed that black adults were 3 times more likely to be issued infractions from 2017 through 2019 — comprising 36 percent of all of citations issued despite making up just 11 percent of the city’s population.

A similar pattern was also found in San Diego, where black adults were 4 times more likely to be written up for minor infractions than white residents, data showed.

“The results are harmful,” according to the study’s authors. “As other studies have documented, even brief encounters with the police can be traumatic, and officers are often more disrespectful to Black and Latinx people.”

No one who received a citation was fined less than $100, with most getting penalized between $250 and $500, the study found.

The LAPD did not respond to a request for comment on the study by the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

A spokesman for police unions in San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles, meanwhile, insisted cops are not biased while on the job.

“When it comes to enforcing the laws, we focus on behavior — not color, not race, not creed, not religion and not sexual orientation,” spokesman Tom Saggau told The Mercury News.

“Police don’t create the laws, and if these attorneys don’t want quality-of-life crimes enforced, they should talk to legislators.”