The University of California Police Department patrols the UCLA campus and the areas of Los Angeles surrounding it. UCPD emails a daily log of reported crimes, arrests and field contacts between officers and civilians to subscribers of the UCPD Daily Log, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Daily Bruin analyzed these daily logs from July 1, 2015, to June 31, 2016 and looked at the demographics of two categories: arrests and field contacts classified as “suspicious activity”.
UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore explained that if a community member sees someone doing something they believe is suspicious, such as loitering around a bicycle rack, they may report the person to UCPD. Officers will then search for the person and try to determine whether they are engaging in criminal activity. If not taken into custody, they will record the interaction as a “suspicious activity” field contact. If officers have reasonable suspicion the person is in the process of committing a crime, they will arrest them. Officers also stop civilians if they themselves suspect someone is engaging in criminal activity.
We aimed to determine how gender, race and age compare for suspicious activity field contacts and arrests. Blacks and Latinos have historically been subject to racial profiling by police while driving and walking. A 2016 Stanford study found that North Carolina police stopped black and Latino motorists at higher rates than white or Asian motorists, but searches of their vehicles were less likely to reveal illegal drugs or weapons. In 2013, a judge ruled that the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, in which officers temporarily detained and questioned civilians for weapons and other contraband, violated the constitutional rights of minority New Yorkers.
UCPD officers receive regular cultural diversity training meant to counter implicit bias through a class certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, Kilgore said. In the class, which is called “Police Legitimacy and Implicit Bias,” officers address what their biases are, how they form them and how to counter them, he said. Officers are trained to view each encounter with a civilian as an individual event. For example, Kilgore said, if an officer is dispatched and told to look for a secretary or a nurse, they should not assume the individual’s gender.
We wanted to see if certain groups might be stopped for suspicious activity at higher rates than others. Whites and Asians make up about 63 percent and 23 percent of Westwood residents, respectively, and Latinos and blacks comprise 7 percent and 2 percent of the population, according to the LA Times. Countywide, whites and Asians account for 26.5 percent and 15 percent of the population, while Latinos and blacks make up 48.5 percent and 9 percent of Los Angeles County.
However, blacks made up nearly 29 percent of UCPD suspicious activity stops from July 2015 to June 2016, while Latinos made up 10.5 percent. Whites accounted for 46.5 percent of stops, and demographics classified as Asian made up 6 percent of stops. Blacks and Latinos are clearly overrepresented in who community members or officers deem suspicious, while whites and Asians are underrepresented.
The data also shows that UCPD officers made more arrests of blacks and Latinos than they filed suspicious activity reports for the same demographics. Thirty-one percent and 23 percent of total arrests in the year-long time period were of blacks and Latinos, respectively. Whites were arrested at a lower rate than they were stopped for suspicious activity, making up 34 percent of arrests, while Asians were arrested about as frequently as they were stopped for suspicious activity, at 6 percent.
Below is a map of arrests and suspicious activity field contacts from July 2015 to June 2016 and graphs comparing gender, race and age across both categories. The demographic categories come from UCPD classifications.
Arrests Suspicious Activity