The Aim and Potential Effects of AB 953 and the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015

The idea of racial profiling and collection or racial data by police agencies has become a hot button topic over the past several months. Recently here in the state of California, AB 953, The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 was signed into law by Governor Brown, which required local law enforcement agencies to collect racial data from citizens who they come into contact with and report it.

Introduced by assembly member Shirley Weber of San Diego the new data will be used by police agencies in tracking of different crime rates by certain races and ethnic groups not only for analyzation by government agencies but also for the rest of the general population to analyze. While this law could be seen as being problematic to some, there are much more important issues that this law addresses that not only protects law enforcement officials but the general population at large.

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While on the surface the collection of this data might seem intrusive into the lives of those in contact with the police but at a deeper level it serves a very important purpose, to show wether or not the police are guilty of racial profiling. Before the passage of AB 953, police agencies were not required to report statistics on who they were in contact with based on race or ethnicity but this law changed that. According to the ACLU, “AB 953 aims to curb the harmful and unjust practice of racial and identity profiling, and increase transparency and accountability with law enforcement agencies.” (Weber).

With this law, officers can no longer seemingly unjustly target racial groups who they believe are committing crimes that they may not be involved in. With the data on who the police contact now being public knowledge, patterns of contact can be analyzed to ensure that certain agencies are not unfairly targeting those who are believed to be the trouble makers rather than looking at the population in general as potential suspects.

The same ACLU article goes on to state, “For example, a recent report by a California police department found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation, and that blacks and Latinos were respectively searched at three and two times the rate of whites.” (Weber) With such larger rates of police targeting of such groups, forced reporting of police investigations into such groups can only help to ensure the police look at all racial groups the same rather than focusing on those groups who they see as being “trouble.”

Not only are human rights organizations such as the ACLU are in support of the bill but also other outside observant human right organizations see the positive impacts such a bill can have on oversight of police departments. Not only do the officers simply have to report the data on their contact with the public, but this information will be used by authorities such the state attorney general to further track information and look at police officers and their agencies practices and policies, “Each agency will be accountable to the state Attorney General and will submit an annual report to be reviewed by a 19-member advisory board.” (Chambers).

Their reports will help the state keep track of crime statistics and keep law enforcement agencies on track from straying away from being racially fair and not unfairly targeting certain races. The bill brings California up to the standards found in other states and federal standards when it comes to racial profiling, “racial and identity profiling to be in line with federal recommendations by including other demographic characteristics, such as gender and sexual orientation.” (ACLU) This bill will help minority groups in areas such as South LA and other areas that are filled with large amounts of “minorities” by essentially forcing the police to look at other people in the areas that may not be part of the minority with equal suspicion as they do those that are part of a minority group the officers may not necessarily like and unfairly target due to perceived notions about actions of others of that race.

While some people have viewed this bill as another way for the police and government to track the population and monitor the population, the positive effects greatly outweigh the negative effects. The main groups in opposition to this bill are police groups not only due to the fact that they believe that the work they do consists only of criminal profiling and that this new law will simply increase their workload as stated by Lt. James of the Long Beach Police Department, “There is no racial profiling. There just isn’t,” he said. “There is criminal profiling that exists, Now, the amount of time we have to spend doing documentation and paperwork has gone up. The time doing menial tasks has gone up.” (Christensen 2015).

With police now required to fill out paperwork in order to properly document the race, ethnicity, and other key information about the subject of their investigation or traffic stop, much extra time will be required to fill out the paperwork to report their contact with the members of the public. But the passage of this law doesn’t mean that agencies are required to immediately start reporting to the state contact with the police. According to the language found in AB 953 itself, the earliest that police agencies would have to report to the state their contact with individuals would be in April of 2019.

This allows plenty of time for these agencies to develop new protocols when it comes to reporting those who they come into contact with. By the time an agency has to be fully compliant with the new resolution, new systems may already be in place that allow for quick and easy entry of the new data into a database for review by state officials. With the rise of technology like iPads, this data entry could go from piles of paperwork to simply filling out a quick form on a electronic tablet and simply hitting the submit button on their device. This makes the police agencies argument of large amounts of extra work invalid.

Many organizations as well as polling data of Californian’s show support for the reporting of racial profiling data of police contact. Although there are small organizations and other civil rights organizations that are opposed to the law and see it as an attempt at at taking away civil liberties and further tracking the general population, many see the benefits and the new form of honesty it places on police organizations across the state.

According to a poll by Tulchin Research, “67% of likely California voters support AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015” (Tulchin Research 2015). With the majority of Californians in support of the bill, it is clear that most Californian’s believe that change is needed to ensure that police do not unjustly and unfairly target those who they believe are guilty of crimes even though they might be completely innocent and a productive member to society.

Society has begun a shift over the past several years. Gone are the years of racial profiling and other preconceived notions about certain groups and now the nation has moved towards being more accepting of those who are different. All it takes too see the rapid change in the opinions of Americans is to turn on the TV news and see the protests for equal rights for all Americans with recent movement such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

America is ready to ensure that everyone is treated fairly not only by the government and the police, but also the population in general. The passage of AB 953 here in California ensures the continuation towards the new American ideals when it comes to treatment of minority groups by forcing the police to be honest on who they target and investigate for crimes. While this action of simply reporting might not seem that large. It can have large effects on potential later legislation that can help ensure the rights of minority groups.

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The Aim and Potential Effects of AB 953 and the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015. (2023, Apr 11). Retrieved from