Story after story has emerged detailing accounts of racial bias, especially allegations revolving around police. The city of Denver is trying to do something about this.
This week, a community forum met to discuss a program that will collect demographic data during police interactions, according to a statement by the city.
Essentially, when officers pull someone over, they’ll be required to take note of the person’s ethnicity. Denver joins cities across the United States that have implemented such programs, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston.
The idea is to see if police show racial bias in stops
Officials have been working on this project since 2016 when the Denver Department of Safety, Denver Police Department and community stakeholders began to form plans for what the program would look like.
“The overarching goal behind the data collection program is to better understand who Denver Police officers are contacting, for what reasons, and to help determine whether or not certain populations are being contacted by police officers at disproportionate rates,” the city said.
Officers will be required to fill out a list of more than 30 questions whenever they pull someone over, Denise Maes, public policy director of the ACLU of Colorado, told CNN. The point, Maes said, is to see what race a police officer perceives someone to be.
It will begin as a three-month pilot program in one police district, then be evaluated to see how it works before being launched citywide. The intent is to extend it to the rest of the city by fall.
“I think it’ll build community trust and build police accountability and transparency,” Maes said.
The program has been a long time coming, ACLU says
Maes said the ACLU has been calling for this kind of program for years.
“We hear a lot of anecdotal stories, a lot of complaints that there is racial profiling going on in the city,” she said.
Some Denver citizens are concerned about police treating minorities with aggression. Porshai Campbell told CNN affiliate KDVR that she believes the Denver police have profiled her brothers.
“Just by the color of their skin they were pulled over and were treated less than they should’ve been treated,” Campbell said to the TV station.
The Office of the Independent Monitor in Denver will analyze the data for racial profiling patterns. The office is a civilian agency that oversees the Denver police and sheriff departments.