January 4, 2022
RE: Statement on San Diego Police Use of Force
Dear Mayor Gloria and Chief Nisleit,
The article New San Diego police unit will review instances when officers use force in the Union Tribune struck a chord with the NAACP San Diego NAACP Branch by starkly illustrating yet another racially-biased aspect of the use of force by the SDPD. In recent years, we’ve seen similar data-intensive reporting pointing out racist police practices from Campaign Zero. Following a review of the article, thanks to the gracious assistance of Lyndsay Winkley, UT Reporter, the NAACP appreciates the SDPD’s collection and releasing of this useful dataset to the public.
This report affirms the need for the NAACP San Diego Branch to continue its work with SDPD leaders and policymakers to improve training and the implementation of policies that prevent use of force incidents and use less violent yet effective, means to interact with the public. We need to stop incidents like this from reoccurring.
The NAACP calls upon the SDPD and other locally operating law enforcement agencies to make use of force data more easily accessible and interpretable. This would result in a more in-depth understanding of racial inequities, enhance public confidence, and result in improved policing practices in our communities.
Police use of force data is currently accessed through a confusing and cumbersome public records portal (the data referenced in the UT article can be found here). Moreover, it lacks a data dictionary. These protocols represent significant barriers for the public to better understand the data. Therefore, the NAACP calls on the SDPD to make up-to-date data accessible by direct download from the City’s website, along with easily understood footnotes and a description of how the data is collected.
One of the challenges with the SDPD’s current data collection protocol occurs when use of force involves multiple victims in a single incident. The way it is currently collected and reported can obscure this fact as only one digital record is released per officer, incident, and use of force type involved. While most use of force incidents may involve one victim only, not all do – for instance during a protest if an officer used one type of force (e.g. a baton) against several people, it may only correspond to the one digital record with no indication that there were multiple victims. The NAACP takes the position that use of force reporting should include information about all the victims so that there is no under-counting of victims and a more complete understanding can be developed from the data.
The NAACP calls upon the SDPD and other local law enforcement agencies to standardize data collection and reporting protocols. Utilizing a standard protocol would eliminate confusion and better assist in the analysis of collected data.
Brian Bonner, President
NAACP San Diego Branch
If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit sandiegonaacp.org/presskit
PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195
(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
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