In early October, the Culver City Police Department issued an internal General Order that repeals former Chief Manuel Cid’s Refocused Policing directive on traffic stops from 2021, and returns CCPD to an approach to traffic stops that results in “widespread racial profiling and the potential for minor traffic stops to turn deadly,” while at the same time having “an absence of a public safety benefit.”
These quotes come from a report that the California Department of Justice published in January 2023. The state’s analysis found that, even with Chief Cid’s 2021 traffic directive to reduce stops for minor equipment violations, CCPD still disproportionately stops Black people.
As to uses of force once a person is stopped, the state found that CCPD had the most racist record in the state: CCPD officers are nearly twice as likely to use force on a Black individual than on a white individual.
And yet the new policy gives officers discretion to stop an individual for any minor equipment violation, as long as the officer can articulate a reason to think someone in the car has committed or will commit a crime. According to the policy, there’s no need for probable cause or even reasonable suspicion.
What’s worse, the new policy doesn’t even require such an articulated reason to make a stop so long as the officer thinks the equipment violation presents a safety issue. As the state’s report shows, this officer discretion is what leads to harmful racial disparities we see in the CCPD data.
CCPD didn’t even inform the public of this significant change in policy. They only released the new policy in response to a California Public Records Act request.
This is a dangerously regressive new policy coming from CCPD. The state’s report recommends addressing disturbing racial disparities like CCPD’s by doing away with pretextual stops altogether, and residents have been calling on CCPD all year to take Chief Cid’s policy, codify it, and make it more robust and responsive to the state’s recommendations.
Instead, CCPD is turning a blind eye to the racist pattern in today’s practices and returning to a policy that is an unfortunate artifact of Culver City Police Department’s even more racist past. No wonder they wanted to hide it from us.