Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Sheriff’s Department Bicycle Stops: How We Told It

To report the story, The Times filed a public request for information on bike stops that Los Angeles County sheriffs’ deputies made from 2017 to late July.

More than 44,000 stops made during this time period were recorded in the department’s database as bike stops. The department provided details of each stop, including the rider’s race, the location of the stop, the reason for the stop, and the type of search conducted, if any.

According to an analysis by The Times, Hispanics made up 70% of cyclists stopped at the time by sheriff’s deputies. To put this figure in context, reporters compared it to the 51% of Hispanics in a sheriff’s patrol, according to an analysis of US Census data. This cycling stop rate was also compared with about 53% of Hispanics involved in bicycle accidents in the department’s jurisdiction from 2014 to 2018, according to an analysis of traffic accident data from the California Highway Patrol and the University of California’s Traffic Injury Mapping System at Berkeley. …

To calculate the total number of bike path miles by neighborhood, The Times used bike path data from Southern California. governments, US Census Bureau road data and Los Angeles County Department of Public Works maps for reference. Cycle paths and cycle paths were included in the analysis.

To contextualize Sheriff’s Department searches, the reporters collected data on other major law enforcement agencies in the state. The Auckland Police Department, which collected and published data on bike stops and searches from 2016 to 2019, offered the most striking comparison.

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The California Department of Justice collects data on stops made by police and sheriff’s departments under the State Racial Identity and Profiling Act. The 15 largest law enforcement agencies in the state were required to provide data for 2019. Using this database, The Times was able to calculate and compare search rates for all stops in these departments.

However, because the state data does not distinguish between road, pedestrian, and bike stops, it was not possible to accurately compare the number of bike stops and the number of departmental searches. An attempt to do so by analyzing stops made by sheriff’s deputies for violating bicycle laws resulted in an underestimated stop count, The Times found out.

The underestimation of the score was due to the fact that cyclists can be stopped for violation of traffic rules, not specifically related to bicycles. Sheriff’s officials confirmed to The Times that the department’s figures more accurately reflect bike stops than state figures.

The Times reviewed 100 arrests that began with stopping cyclists. Because the sheriff’s department’s bike stop data did not include the names of the cyclists, the Times checked them with the sheriff’s department’s daily arrest logs and identified 63 people involved in 100 arrests.

A review of court records revealed that more than 80 arrests resulted in new charges or were the result of an unfulfilled warrant. Journalists received letters from the district attorney in four cases, in which prosecutors explained why they refused to press charges.

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