Friday, October 10, 2003
City Must Negotiate Change in Racial Profiling Policy, C.A. Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A police department that adopted a policy of tracking the race of each person stopped while driving violated state labor law by not negotiating the new procedures with the union representing the officers, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
The policy adopted two years ago by the City of Claremont affects officers’ “terms and conditions of employment” and is thus subject to the “meet-and-confer” requirements of Government Code Sec. 3505, Justice Walter Croskey wrote for Div. Three.
The section is part of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which governs local government labor relations in California. The MMBA requires employers and employee representatives to discuss changes in working conditions before they are implemented, although the employer may unilaterally implement a change if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Conrad R. Aragon erred, the justice said, by ruling that the policy involves “consideration of the merits, necessity, or organization of [a] service or activity provided by law or executive order,” exempting it from the meet-and-confer rule.
The policy, implemented in July of last year, requires officers to fill out a written form for each vehicle stop that does not result in an arrest or citation.
The information that each officer must collect includes the time and date of the stop, age group and gender of the driver, driver’s race or ethnicity, officer’s perception of the driver’s race or ethnicity before the stop, initial reason for the stop, initial reason for any search and type of search conducted, outcome of the stop, driver’s city of residence, general location where the infraction occurred, duration of the stop, year of the vehicle, and whether the police vehicle was equipped with a camera.
The policy replaced an earlier program, which was in effect when the union and the city negotiated their last contract, under which officers radioed in a report for each stop not resulting in arrest or citation. The only information reported, however, was the driver’s race, age, and gender.
Croskey, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the implementation of the new policy represented a significant change in working conditions, rather than a fundamental policy decision, because an accusation of racial profiling could affect an officer’s prospects for promotion and relations with the public, or subject him or her to discipline.
“For this reason, the manner that the information is collected and the accuracy of the data and data analysis are matters of great concern to the association’s members,” the justice wrote. “Moreover, the city’s use of a team of researchers from outside of the police department and police commission may create the potential for public dissemination and misuse of data concerning individual officers, which could impair an officer’s relations with the public and effectiveness on the job. These potential adverse effects are neither speculative nor remote and need not be demonstrated by historical facts to be considered significant.”
Attorneys on appeal were Dieter C. Dammeier and Michael A. Morguess of Lackie & Dammeier for the union, and Richard M. Kreisler and Mark H. Meyerhoff of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for the city.
Peter Eliasberg of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California co-authored an amicus brief in support of the city.
The case is Claremont Police Officers Association v. City of Claremont, 03 S.O.S. 5316.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company