DENVER – Denver police will begin collecting racial information about the people they contact following recent protests and complaints about a lack of accountability.
Chief Robert White said it’s difficult to determine if racial profiling is an issue without the facts.
“Officers need to know and citizens need to know how everyone’s actions are going to be held accountable,” White said in an interview with The Denver Post (http://tinyurl.com/hml4act ). “Without it, we can’t prove anything one way or the other. That does not benefit the transparency or the credibility of the department.”
Community activists rejected claims by authorities it would be too time-consuming or too expensive to collect information on traffic or pedestrian stops.
“If DPD was willing to collect demographic data all along, why was there a litany of voices from community groups, legislators, the Denver auditor and independent monitor all pushing for them to collect it?” said Lisa Calderone, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum’s Denver chapter. “Because DPD refused to collect it.”
During a state legislative committee meeting in 2015, large departments in Colorado, including Colorado Springs and Aurora, said they did not collect information on the race and ethnicity of people contacted by police.
Stephanie O’Malley, executive director of Denver’s safety department, said previously that asking people about their race could potentially turn otherwise peaceful interactions into volatile situations. O’Malley said she has since changed her mind.
Among groups that have demanded that Denver police study racial profiling are Black Lives Matter 5280, the Colorado Latino Forum, The Denver Justice Project, the NAACP’s Denver chapter, the ACLU of Colorado and Showing Up for Racial Justice.
The groups said blacks, Latinos and American Indians are stopped and searched at disproportionate rates to white people.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com