CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Chula Vista police officers are five times more likely to use force on Black people than they are on White and Hispanic people, according to data obtained by CBS 8.
When factoring in population, approximately 20 Black people out of every 1,000 had force used between 2018 and June of 2022. Whereas, nearly five out of every 1,000 Hispanic residents and four out of every 1,000 White residents had force used on them during police interactions. Asian American and Pacific Islanders were much lower, with less than one person per 1000 having had force used on them by police.
From 2018 through June of this year, police used force on Black suspects on 231 occasions. During that same time, police used force on Hispanic suspects a total of 708 times and on White suspects on 251 occasions.
When looking at each year, the disparity of use of force incidents according to race has varied. However, one thing has remained constant, Black people are far more likely to experience force from police than other races in Chula Vista.
In 2018, Chula Vista Police used force on 44 Black people out of 336 total use of force incidents citywide. Whereas, that same year, 173 Hispanic or Latino people and 74 White people had force used on them. When factoring in population, that means Black people were 3.2 times more likely than White people and slightly more - 3.5 times - more likely than Hispanic to have force used on them.
In 2019, that number spiked to 6.6 times the rate of force used on Black suspects compared to White and Hispanics.
During the pandemic, in 2020, the number dipped, with police using force on Black people 3.1 times more than on White and Hispanic people.
In 2021, use of force incidents spiked, and Blacks were 7.8 times more likely than White and Hispanics to have force used on them.
Through June of this year, the number is down slightly to 6.6 times the frequency when comparing force used on Black people compared to White and Hispanic populations.
"Police kill people. We have a right to be nervous," said social justice advocate, Tasha Williamson. "Why did they spend millions of dollars on de-escalation. And if they used those de-escalation tactics properly and effectively. They need someone who is going to be serious about the business of changing the culture of policing that is actually out in the streets with these officers on a daily basis."
Executive Captain for the Chula Vista Police Department, Phil Collum, says the department is working to train and educate officers on how to spot potential biases in their policing.
Collum also tells CBS 8 that the numbers don't always tell the full story.
"We take several measures to try to talk about and educate our personnel about implicit, unconscious bias to try to ensure that bias doesn't effect their decision making."
Collum says it is wrong to look at the total population since officers do not interact with all members of the public.
Collum and the department estimate that Black people are closer to two times more likely to have force used on them than White and Hispanic people.
"Statistically speaking, when you have numbers that small, even slight changes in the actual totals of the numbers themselves can appear like larger changes if you're looking at percentages," explained Collum.
In order to arrive at those percentages, CBS 8 used SANDAG's estimated population numbers according to race for the city of Chula Vista and divided the number of instances per race by the total number. We then took that number and divided it by the population and multiplied it by 1,000.
Added Collum, "It is still important that we are treating our community with fairness. Officers have a very difficult job, one that can be very complex and fluid - but we need to make the public know that we're doing it in the right way for the right reasons in the way that our department expects our officers to do."
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