Denver auditor recommends police keep racial data on stops

From The Denver Post: The Denver Police Department should collect demographic data — including race and ethnicity — for all traffic and pedestrian stops initiated by its officers, an auditor’s report said.

However, Department of Safety director Stephanie O’Malley told auditor Timothy O’Brien she disagreed with his recommendation and the department had no plans to add the additional administrative work to its officers’ schedules.

The audit report and O’Malley’s response were released last week after O’Brien examined the police department’s community policing efforts, proactive police actions and body camera implementation.

Community and proactive policing have been priorities for Chief Robert White. Proactive policing happens when officers take the initiative to contact people or patrol certain areas rather than waiting on 911 calls.

A previous audit found that Denver’s patrol officers spend about 44 percent of their time responding to 911 calls and 26 percent of their time on self-initiated action. The rest of their time is spent on administrative functions such as training or testifying in court.

The auditor raised concerns that police could put the department at risk for criticism and lawsuits if officers engaged in racial profiling during proactive policing. However, the department does not keep racial and ethnic data on its stops so it is impossible to know if the stops are racially equitable, the audit report said.

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