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Citizens Group Is Tackling Racial Bias In San Diego Police Department

The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

After a study from San Diego State University in late 2016 found San Diegans of color were more likely to be stopped by police, San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole convened a group of citizens in hopes to help the police department better interact with the community.

RELATED: Council Members, Community Hope Real Change Will Come After SDPD Report

The Citizens Advisory Board On Police/Community Relations originally began in 1990, but became inactive in 1999 until Cole restarted it in 2016. Their mission, according to the city, is to review "policies, practices and programs designed to make law enforcement sensitive, effective and responsive."

The group of 15 citizens has now been meeting for a year and a half, with two subcommittees that are focusing on how the police department recruits officers and on training within the department.

Chairman Barry Pollard said the goal is to encourage the police department to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds.

"It's easier to train someone to use a firearm than it is to teach them how to interact authentically with a community of color or a community of underserved people," he said.

For example, he'd like the police department to "include school teachers, include people who have worked with social agencies, just so if we put enough of those folks into the system they may think twice about pulling a gun and shooting someone."

He also said the police department could change its rules on hiring people with tattoos, or on what kind of credit checks it requires, because those may weed out more diverse candidates.

The board is also looking to change training practices and procedures within the police department, he said.

The goal is to present the recommendations to a city council committee this fall.

The Citizens Advisory Board On Police/Community Relations has been meeting for a year and a half, with two subcommittees that focus on how the police department recruits officers and on training within the department.

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