Hot SheetPublic Safety

Data collection to shed light on Denver police interactions with minorities

Author: Adam McCoy - June 14, 2018 - Updated: June 14, 2018

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Dawn Russell gets arrested by Denver police officers after refusing to vacate the offices of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in downtown Denver in 2017. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)

Does the Denver Police Department racially profile those they come in contact with daily?

Local law enforcement leaders hope a new data collection program unveiled this week can help shed some light on the nature of its interactions with minorities in Denver.

Launching in northeast Denver in mid-July, the three-month pilot program will require that Denver police officers record the ethnicity of everyone they engage with during traffic and pedestrian stops, KVDR reports. Police won’t ask about ethnicity during stops. Rather, data will be collected based on officers’ perception of race.

The information, which also includes dozens of data points including gender and age, will be shared with the New York-based Center for Policing Equity — an independent group that frequently works with police departments, analyzing data and improving community relations.

Eventually, the program will expand citywide and provide possible insight into better policing practices, Lisa Calderon, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, told the Colorado Independent.

Calderon was a part of the two-year process of crafting the program alongside other groups including Denver police, the Denver Department of Safety, the Office of the Independent Monitor and the ACLU of Colorado, among others.

Nicholas Mitchell — who leads the Office of the Independent Monitor, the city’s civilian law enforcement watchdog agency —  told the Colorado Independent he often receives reports of racial profiling by the Denver police force. But “there’s often not a very good answer to their concerns” because comprehensive data isn’t collected.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.