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Black Student Organizations Question San Diego Police Policies

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Members of two black student organizations held a rally Wednesday in response to a presentation by San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman about changes made after a U.S. Department of Justice review of her department.

Before the presentation during a City Council Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee meeting at the Jacobs Center on Euclid Avenue, students from the Black Student Justice Coalition and the African American Men of the Student African American Brotherhood held a rally and called on the department to end racial profiling in San Diego.

The students raised questions about police policies regarding traffic stops and gang documentation.

Mark Jones, president of the Black Student Justice Coalition, said he wants Mayor Kevin Faulconer to put as much focus on the police department as he is on keeping the Chargers in San Diego. He said he wants officers to be independently investigated when claims are made against them.

“Just make sure that communities of color are treated fairly — without bias,” Jones told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. “It can’t be a task force through the police department. We need independent investigations.”

Jones also spoke about the CalGang System, a state database that tracks gang members. He said officers determine who’s a gang member by racially profiling members of the public.

“It’s merely nothing more than racial profiling,” he said. “It’s guilt by association, and it’s hindering our community. It’s as if we waive our rights to document these folks.”

The Department of Justice released a report earlier this year focusing on 17 cases of misconduct within the San Diego Police Department. The report findings included: leaders not adequately addressing smaller problems and the lack of consistent supervision.

KPBS invited Zimmerman or a designated spokesperson to join this discussion but officers said no one was available for Thursday’s Midday show.

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