The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office found disparities in the percentages of Latino and Black individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies. These findings confirm anecdotal impressions and data from the San Jose police department.
Disparities were found across all charges beginning with the following points of encounter: car stops, 911 calls, in person street encounters, results of police investigations and resisting a police officer.
This final category reveals a disproportion that is both notable and troubling. The proportion of people charged with resisting arrest (CA Penal Code 148) were 50% Latino and 14% Black. Latinos make up 26% of the county’s population, Blacks make up 3%.
“Resisting an officer” is a subjective determination. Frequently, those charged believe that they are in fact the victims of rough treatment by police officers. Concerns regarding resisting an officer charges that follow a use of force by police officers are being voiced by San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor, many attorneys, individual residents and community advocates.
It is important to point out that these numbers were not caused by people coming into Santa Clara County from other areas, as the same disparities were revealed when the data was limited to Santa Clara County residents charged with a crime. The DA’s report also shows whites, Asians and Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in the data when it comes to felony and misdemeanor prosecutions.
While the study does not try to identify why these results exist, it is very important to note that the questions are being raised and asked at the District Attorney level.