Denver police will launch program to collect racial data on people during stops

The Denver Post: On July 15, the Denver Police Department will roll out a pilot project for collecting racial and ethnic data on people its officers decide to stop.

The pilot project, which has been two years in the making, will take place in District 2, which covers the northeast side of the city. Officers will be required to fill out electronic forms that will describe the reason they stopped a person, what race or ethnicity they believed the person to be, how long the stop lasted and other information, said Lisa Calderon, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum’s Denver chapter.

“What we’re looking to measure is an officer’s perception in initiating a contact,” Calderon said. “What’s in the officer’s mind?”

City officials and community activists who worked on the project introduced it Tuesday night during a community meeting in Park Hill, one neighborhood where the project will be tested. The pilot program will last three months, and then officials will evaluate how it went and make changes they believe are necessary, said Nick Mitchell, Denver’s independent monitor. The racial data collection will become mandatory for every officer on Denver’s police force who makes decisions on whether to stop someone whether it’s in traffic or after seeing them walk down the street.

The data collection is important because so many of the city’s black, Latino and American Indian residents complain about unfair treatment from police officers. It is one of the most frequent complaints his office receives, Mitchell, who serves as a police watchdog, said. But there is no data to determine whether those perceptions are true.

The city is working with the Center for Policing Equity, an independent research group that analyzes racial data from police departments to help them improve community relations. The center will produce regular reports on its findings, and Mitchell said researchers in his office also will analyze data to measure how Denver’s police officers biases and help them improve their response to people they serve. All reports will be public.

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