Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015 into California law. Written by Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s (D-San Diego), AB 953 now requires law enforcement agencies to collect basic information on police stops in response to growing concerns about racial profiling and police misconduct.
“I am grateful to the governor - who along with his father has been on the forefront of civil rights issues for the last half century - for his careful consideration and for his support for this bill,” Weber said. “AB 953 will be the state’s first step toward not only understanding the problem of racial profiling, but also toward formulating policies to reduce the practice and its devastating consequences. California is going in a new direction on this issue; hopefully, this will set an example for other states."
According to an independent analysis, unarmed Black men are seven times more likely than unarmed white men to die by police gunfire nationwide. California holds the ominous record for the highest number of deaths in the country, with 149 people killed by law enforcement in the state this year. However, the state still does not collect, analyze, or make available basic information about who the police, stop, search or even shoot.
"As people of faith, we were compelled to pray for Governor Brown’s moral courage to sign AB 953 and take a step to end the suffering of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that are traumatized by racial profiling and overly aggressive policing practices. This precedent setting legislation is historic – it is both a moral and legal victory for our state and our nation. The people have spoken and no longer will we be held hostage by rogue officers and departments who see us as criminals unworthy of human dignity simply by virtue of the color of our skin," said Rev. Ben McBride, Director of Regional Clergy Development with PICO California.
AB 953 would go one step further than other similar laws, like one adopted in Connecticut, to include both traffic and pedestrian stops. Governor Brown also signed into law another data collection bill, Assembly Bill 71, to gather information about police use of force.
“As the rest of the country grapples with issues of police misconduct and racial profiling, Governor Brown delivered a strong message with the stroke of his pen. Now California has the strongest laws against police violence and racial profiling, thus paving the way for the rest of the nation,” said Salimah Hankins, Director of Legislative Advocacy for Dignity and Power Now.
AB 953 will
Update California’s definition of racial and identity profiling to be in line with federal recommendations by including other demographic characteristics, such as gender and sexual orientation.
Require that California law enforcement agencies uniformly collect and report data on stops, frisks, and other interactions with the communities they serve.
Establish an advisory board to analyze stop data and develop recommendations to address problems with disparate policing where they exist.
The Communities United Coalition is comprised of the six AB 953 cosponsor organizations: PICO California, ACLU of California, Youth Justice Coalition, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Reform California, and Dignity and Power Now, as well as other organizations that also support the bill.