On a June 3 teleconference with the Menlo Park Mayor Cecilia Taylor and Police Chief Dave Bertini, a woman called in and asked about how to explain to neighborhood teens about being stopped for no apparent reason by police. Studies show that youth who experience intrusive police stops are at risk of heightened emotional distress.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of racial disparities in police stops in Menlo Park but we don’t yet have the data to show it. There is no data by race for police stops that do not conclude in a citation or detention.
The City of Menlo Park has an Open Data Portal that provides information about local law enforcement activity. The portal provides statistics for citations, showing disparities by race. Of the citations between 2016 and 2018 that listed the individual’s race (all but 2%) 31% were given to white individuals while 69% were given to non-white individuals (40% for Black and Hispanic individuals alone). In contrast, the population of Menlo Park is exactly the opposite: 70% white and 30% non-white (according to the 2010 census).
If you want to see Menlo Park police track data about police stops by race and neighborhood, please sign this petition. If you sign this petition, Menlo Together will:
- share your name with Menlo Park City Council
- contact you with more opportunities to demand transparent data about police stops, and other opportunities for a more transparent and just city
11 thoughts on “Petition: Demand Data about Menlo Park Police Stops by Race”
Transparency = Trust
For years, the police would camp out on Oakdell to issue tickets to people turning right between 7 am-9 am. Just blocks away, hundreds of young children and families would be descending upon the Oak Knoll Elementary School campus for morning drop offs. At the very moment that police were writing tickets to mostly construction workers and other laborers, a much more serious traffic situation existed with little interest or attention from police. I wrote many letters and never got any kind of response. My request was simple – your job is to serve and protect, not sit and write tickets (especially to lower income workers who don’t live here and probably didn’t see the very faded sign). As a resident of this neighborhood and a parent of young children, seeing hundreds of little kids on bikes plus cars and pedestrians – all on the road with regular commuter traffic thrown in – was much more concerning and the bigger ‘safety and service’ opportunity.
I am happy to report that in the last year, the police do seem to drive by the campus more often. But, I must add that I am not impressed with the attitude they bring. I don’t see them connecting with their community or attempting to build relationships of any kind, even with simple wave hello or good morning greeting. (Quick aside – the lovely crossing guards are much better at this!). One time, when my child was running late and I needed to drive him, we pulled over several blocks away and a police saw this and came over to scold me. I know all the reasons why we can’t have cars pulling over closer to campus due to traffic flow but nothing of that nature was the case in this moment and what was already a stressful morning became even more anxiety producing because of the presence of this officer. He wasn’t offering a kind, ‘hi, just a quick FYI….’ but more of a stern lecture. And, as a White woman, I recognize that my definition and experience of stress or anxiety in this moment could have been a thousand times worse if I were a person of color. I could have gotten a ticket for that 10 second stop – or been the victim of police violence like we’ve seen lately.
I know policing is not an easy job and I am grateful for those who have sincerely tried to do a good job. But, my own experience suggests we still have a long ways to go and if that’s true for a privileged white woman living in central Menlo – I’m guessing it’s even more so the case for BIPOC residents. This is a moment to reimagine policing and invest in things that not only build safer communities but also healthier and happier ones for ALL.
I observe far more police vehicles making rounds in east than west Menlo Park. I observe far more police stops east of City Hall than to the west. I observe far more stops of people of color than of caucasians. All of our residents need to be treated equally and fairly by the police. If there is nothing to hide, then why are de-identified police data by race not publicly available? How are residents of this lovely city able to provide oversight when they are being denied access to the means to do so?
I agree that the more we can do locally -the better.
thanks for doing this.
The police wrote me tickets for parking in my own driveway . The city needs to cut its budget – please cut the police funding.
I recently got a ticket for making a safe right turn on Middle onto El Camino by the gas station across from Safeway. I was accused of entering the bike lane – but there is no painted line for a bike lane. I had looked behind me and noted that there were no bicycles and no other vehicles. Middle dead-ends into El Camino and there is a dedicated right-hand turn lane. Surely that cop has better things to do than to give a ticket to a safe driver in Menlo Park driving 3 miles to work in the morning.
Menlo Park can do better, especially with our current city council. We over here have been saying for a long time that there is, or should be ONE Menlo Park. If the evidence is against that being the case, hiding the evidence won’t change the case.
Anecdotally, as a bike commuter from Downtown Menlo Park to East Palo Alto (often biking through Bellehaven), I have experienced WAY more dangerous vehicle activity (speeding, cutting me off, running through stop signs and lights) on the west side of the city by white drivers than I have by drivers of color . Please spend more time ticketing those individuals than sitting in Bellehaven waiting for someone to break the law.