BPD_officer_involved_shooting (copy)

In 2016, Bakersfield police officers investigate an officer-involved shooting that took place at an apartment at White Squall Lane.

Officer-involved shootings in Bakersfield have hit communities of color the hardest, raising some question about whether city policing has been evenhanded in its enforcement.

Of the 68 people involved in officer-involved shootings over the last decade, 81 percent have been people of color, according to an analysis of Bakersfield Police Department records by The Californian.

Latinos in Bakersfield are more than twice as likely than whites to be caught up in an officer-involved shooting by the BPD, while blacks are nearly four times as likely, the analysis shows.

The pattern essentially repeats itself for the 33 BPD shootings ending in the death of a civilian.

“It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest,” said Lori Pesante, a volunteer with a local advocacy group, Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Bakersfield College. “There’s no way around that when you look at the way the numbers break down in exactly the same pattern all over the United States. It’s not just here.”

Compared to the nation as a whole, Bakersfield has a slightly greater disparity among whites and other races when it comes to officer-involved shootings.

In the U.S. in 2017, blacks were about 2.5 times as likely to be killed by law enforcement, while Latinos had similar rates as whites, a Californian analysis of national crime data compiled by The Washington Post showed.

The issue has confounded experts, who caution there are no easy answers.

Pesante suggested that city segregation and inequity issues play a part.

"It’s such a complicated problem that it has to be attacked on multiple fronts," she said.

The BPD maintains that it has little control over which citizens end up becoming involved in officer-involved shootings.

Officers respond to calls for service regardless of race, said BPD spokesman Nathan McCauley

“We don’t go to extra calls because of the race of the person involved and we don’t go to less calls because of the race of the person involved. We go to the calls that we’re sent to,” he said. “We address the issues that are seen and brought to us. We’re not starting the issue.”

BPD officers participate in implicit-bias training during the police academy and at least once a year after they enter active duty, McCauley said.

“These are always topics that are discussed and brought into the training, as well as our day-to-day evaluation of ourselves,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies typically point to arrest rates when asked to explain disparities in officer-involved shootings.

In Kern County, blacks are more than four times likely to be arrested on suspicion of violent felonies than whites, while Latinos are slightly less likely, according to statistics provided by the California Department of Justice.

However, criminal justice experts say arrest rates may not tell the whole story on violence within communities.

“It’s not who committed crimes, it’s who gets arrested for crimes,” Chris Smith, a professor of sociology at UC Davis who studies crime and inequality, said of arrest rates.

Additionally, the BPD does not use arrests for violent incidents as a way to explain disparities in officer-involved shootings.

“The only way to examine the appropriateness of an officer-involved shooting (is) to look at the circumstances in each one individually,” McCauley wrote in an emailed statement. “Every use of deadly force is examined with the utmost scrutiny, and any indication that race played a part in the officer’s decisions would be addressed immediately.”

While experts provide few answers for reasons why officer-involved shootings heavily impact Bakersfield’s communities of color, and the BPD also could not explain the disparity, officer-involved shootings can have a corrosive effect on those impacted the most.

“Fear, disconnection from law enforcement, lack of trust, these are obvious in communities of color,” said Nancy Renfro, co-founder of Community TRUSTT, a local volunteer organization that meets with law enforcement agencies each month to discuss potential reforms. “We need the police to do what they do. We also need the community to be confident enough and have enough trust in law enforcement to inform them when they see dangerous activity, and that is not happening very often.”

But Renfro said she sees hope that the future could bring changes to Bakersfield.

"I’m very encouraged by programs like principled policing," she said, referring to a police training procedure that addresses implicit bias.

Community TRUSTT has pushed for independent reviews of use-of-force incidents. Currently, the BPD internally reviews such incidents, finding every officer-involved shooting but one in the last 10 years to be within department policies.

By pushing for independent review, along strategies like de-escalation, the group hopes to change the BPD’s and the Kern County Sheriff's Office's approach to force.

Through Community TRUSTT’s and others’ work with the BPD and the Sheriff’s Office, Renfro says that perhaps communities that have long been distrustful of law enforcement could begin to work with police officers.

Although it may take a long time, change could be on the horizon.

“We are hoping that we can contribute to healing that disconnect,” she said. “We are hoping that we can somehow contribute to healing this community.”

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

(19) comments

Stonefield2020

" Latinos in Bakersfield are more than twice as likely than whites to be caught up in an officer-involved shooting by the BPD, while blacks are nearly four times as likely, the analysis shows." Maybe just maybe its because these ethnic groups( ID politics is lame, and labeling people with crayon colors, is lame. but since the writer went there) elicit 2 to 4 xs the police calls because of their behavior. No not maybe. its a fact. and if you disagree you dont get out much. A trigger happy cop is a trigger happy cop. The same public disturbance in Oildale with get the same police response there as it will in the Loma.

Stonefield2020

" Latinos in Bakersfield are more than twice as likely than whites to be caught up in an officer-involved shooting by the BPD, while blacks are nearly four times as likely, the analysis shows."

Maybe just maybe its because these ethnic ( ID politics is lame, and labeling people with crayon colors, is lame. but since the writer went there) elicit 2 to 4 xx the police calls because of their behavior.

No not maybe. its a fact. and if you disagree you dont get out much.

A trigger happy cop is a trigger happy cop. The same public disturbance in Oildale with get the same police response there as in will in the Loma.

Barking Spider

Seattle, WA crime rate is 69% higher than the Washington average and is 115% higher than the national average. Looking at violent crime specifically, Seattle, WA has a violent crime rate that is 108% higher than the Washington average and 65% higher than the national average. For property crime, Seattle, WA is 66% higher than the Washington average and 123% higher than the national average.

The murder rate in Dallas is 12.5 per 100,000 people, which causes Dallas to rank 25th out of the deadliest cities in the country. When violent crimes are looked at more closely, there are 58 rapes per 100,000 people in Dallas compared to 48 per 100,000 in the state or 40 per 100,000 nationwide. The robbery rate in Dallas is 348 while the assault rate is 342. The violent crime rate in Dallas is 762 per 100,000 compared to 386 per 100,000 nationally. The odds of being a victim of some kind of crime, particularly property crime, in the Dallas metro region are much higher than in most areas of the United States.

Philadelphia, PA crime rate is 104% higher than the Pennsylvania average and is 46% higher than the national average. Looking at violent crime specifically, Philadelphia, PA has a violent crime rate that is 202% higher than the Pennsylvania average and 147% higher than the national average. For property crime, Philadelphia, PA is 86% higher than the Pennsylvania average and 30% higher than the national average.

The overall crime rate is 78% higher than the average of crimes committed in Georgia. It is also 108% higher than the national average. When it comes to violent crimes, Atlanta, GA shows a crime rate that is 162% higher than the Georgia average. The crime rate is also 144% higher than the national average. When it comes to property crimes, Atlanta, GA is shown to be 67% higher than the Georgia average and 102% higher than the national average.

According to the annual crime data, the crime rate in New York, NY is 6% higher than the average of the whole of the state of New York, and when compared with the national average, is 28% lower than. When looking at violent crimes, New York, NY has 51% higher than violent crime rate than New York average, while remaining 41% higher than the national average. In property crime, New York, NY is 4% lower than the average of New York and is 39% lower than the national average.

Yeah, we sure don't want to be criticized and stereotyped by these places.

Ciscojav

We in Bakersfield don't like to be negatively stereotyped by the rest of the nation but I would like to bet that if newspaper readers in large metropolitan cities such as Seattle, Dallas,
Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, etc. read some of these comments, which the overwhelming majority are attacking this article, then we have only ourselves to blame because such comments will help to continue to perpetuate some negative stereotypes of Bakersfield.

GaryJohns

This article, it's "data," and its racist insinuations are worthy of past Danny Morrison and Nada Behziz pieces of crapola. I smell Dolores Huerta all over this article....

jerry28drj

Since percentages are used wouldn't percentages of the people actually committing these violent crimes be proper also, just for context. Omitting all the facts to spin a story a certain way is wrong.

Walliford

I am so weary of the term, "people of color." People who do not engage in criminal activity do not have contact with the police. People who obey police commands do not get hurt. Simple as that.

Ed

The Media Bias Chart, created by the nonprofit Ad Fontes Media, ranks news organizations on two sliding scales: original factual reporting vs. biased persuasion and left vs. right partisanship. It places Fox News low in terms of original factual reporting ("selective or incomplete" stories) and squarely in the hyperpartisan-right category. The chart also ranks several news organizations on the left poorly in terms of bias and lack of original reporting: Alternet and Daily Kos, to name two

Where does the Californian fall within this scale?? Probably top 20 for state with all their “Opinions”

Barking Spider

This article is misleading, perhaps intentionally so. How can you base a conclusion that minorities are killed disproportionally by police based on just numbers and comparisons to other areas? Using this logic is, in a word, stupid. As police sources are quoted, you have to examine each case individually and what causative elements led to the shooting.

The only conclusion that can be inferred by the stated statistics is that blacks are four times as likely and hispanics are twice as likely as whites to commit the acts and actions that cause them to be shot and/or killed by law enforcement?

It is relatively simple to avoid placing yourself in a situation that would have the potential of the police responding with deadly force:

1. Do not commit a violent felony crime.
2. Do not flee from the police or try to run them down with your vehicle.
3. Do not assault the police with a deadly weapon or an object that resembles a deadly weapon. Yes, a bag of high point beer when you hit a cop over the head with it is considered a deadly weapon, and yes, a car jack can under the right conditions can resemble a gun, as do toy guns and other items.
4. Do as instructed when in contact with the police and do not make any body movements that may be perceived by the police as a threat to them. If placed under arrest, do not resist. You will not prevail. Court is the place to argue your case, not on a sidewalk someplace.
5. Don't fault the police when they have to make split second decisions when dealing with a potentially mentally ill or drug addled individual that family and friends have been dealing with for years and didn't obtain help or treatment or the individual refused treatment.

Social and criminal justice reforms are not the answer. Placing the blame where it lies with the individuals involved would be a start. The loved ones always seem content to stay in the closet until they smell money in a civil suit and there is always some ambulance chaser that will take the case.

RICHARDFITZWELL

This has to be one of the best responses I’ve seen on this page in a long time. I found myself with nothing to add because you said it all. Nice job.

ReefRanger

Upvotes to infinity and beyond! You have said what the article refused to say. If one is going to be a criminal, one must accept the consequences of their actions. If one does not abide by the aforementioned rules of conduct, one must expect to be dealt with accordingly.

Patricia Edna

Nice try pushing division and discord. We have a criminal problem thanks to poor decisions by Democratic leadership in Sacramento, not a policing problem. In fact, we need more police officers.

BanditIvy

What do the liberal mental midgets want to do? Say gee Mr. Police Officer, you can't shoot the Mexican pointing a gun at you because you have reach the maximum percentage already allowed for Mexicans?

JR

It is a complicated issue. But it all stems from one single problem - racism. Bakersfield's Black population is only 7.46%. But Blacks are shot four times more often than Whites and twice as often as Hispanics?! I understand that Bakersfield and Fresno police are among the most brutal and violent and rogue in the nation, but even these statistics are shocking. And worst of all, it will never change because no one who can change it cares to do so. .

ReefRanger

And what percent of those populations commit the greatest amount of crimes? People of color. Also, what percentage of those populations are in gangs and/or addicted to drugs? You're right. Its complicated. And racism is a very fractional part of the problem.

alexkelley

Another Sam Morgen/Bakersfield Californian political hit piece using out-of-context and skewed data to infer inherent bias & racism within our law enforcement agencies. This latest headline is more TBC Opinion presented as fact since “disparity” is NOT inherent proof of bias or racism; yet young “padawan” Sammy, under the mentoring of master Price, is learning and honing his reporting craft (note reporting, not journalism) to creat controversy with his writing, not to report legitimate news. Sammy merely picks random facts from obscure data sets (also not cited) then splashes a few quotes from outright biased “civil rights” and “criminal rights” groups to insinuate a vast conspiracy and whalla! you have another Leftist Social Justice hit piece to post in TBC blog. Facts & context be damned!

Nathane

In our prisons, 90% of inmates are people of color, compared to 90% of corrections being people who are white. Curious what the ratio is with Bakersfield's police.? No mention in the article.

REMUDA

" . . . communities of color . . . " -- first sentence . . . the answer lies within.
---
As usual and throughout the USA . . . and . . . the world in which 'races' are somewhat 'closed' societies. Other factors influence this 'discrepancy' historically.

byebyeCA

People of color need to stay out of trouble. Problem solved.

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