The Denver Police Department will be launching a project to collect racial data on those they decide to pull over. According to CNN, beginning July 15, the Denver Police Department will begin collecting racial and ethnic data on those they choose to stop to provide greater transparency about racial bias.
The pilot project has been in the making for the past two years and will cover the Northeast side of Denver.
According to Lisa Calderon, the Denver chapter co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, an officer will need to fill out an electronic form about why they stopped the person, what race they believed the person was, and how long the stop lasted for.
“What we’re looking to measure is an officer’s perception in initiating a contact,” Calderon said. “What’s in the officer’s mind?”
The project was introduced by city officials and community activists during a community meeting in Park Hill on Tuesday, June 12. The pilot project will begin in July and will last for three months.
Denver’s independent monitor, Nick Mitchell, said city officials will later evaluate how the pilot project went and whether any changes will need to be made.
Although less than 1% of data is ever analyzed, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), this data is critical to improving police department performance and reducing racial bias issues if they’re found.
The racial data collection, Mitchell says, will become mandatory for every office in the Denver Police Department who chooses to stop a civilian whether it’s for a perceived traffic violation or they’re stopping them on the sidewalk.
The data collection is critical because of the complaints by the city’s Latinx, black, and Native American residents who claim they’re unfairly targeted by police officers. Unfortunately, the department hasn’t been able to disprove these allegations because no data exists. The pilot project intends to change that.
Denver is working with the Center for Policing Equity, an independent research group, to improve community relations between police and civilians. All the reports the center produces will be public.
Stephanie O’Malley, the former director of the Department of Safety, says the pilot project isn’t being used to punish police officers. Rather, it’s a tool for improving their interactions with residents.
“The one thing we all agreed upon was this was not going to be a gotcha moment,” O’Malley said. “We all want to learn from this.”