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California Census data is flawed according to Bay Area police

PoliceCensus data compiled in the Bay Area shows local police departments need more diversity if it wants to reflect its current population. While many area departments acknowledge diversity is very important, they do concede that an overwhelming number of officers are white.

At the same time, officials say the census data is not completely accurate in its findings. In the 2010 Bureau report, it estimated that the departments of Brentwood, Walnut Creek, Daly City, Antioch, and Novato were 100 percent white. However, they say this is not the case.

Police department diversity across the nation has become a focal point for many, especially coming on the heels of a shooting in Ferguson, Missouri that many deemed racially motivated. Even so, area officials are stating the figures are inaccurate and may misrepresent their commitment to diversity.

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Daly City’s population in 2013 was 14 percent Caucasian. During that time period, 68 percent of its officers were Caucasian according to Captain Pat Hensley. Other area police captains have stepped forward giving their own numbers, showing that none had the reported 100 percent white precinct.

That said, a glance at just a few department numbers show that there is still a ways to go to reach racial parity between the communities and their police forces.  Antioch has a white population of 34 percent with a police force that is 73 percent white. Napa is 57 percent white with a department showing of 81 percent. Novato’s population is 71 percent white with its department showing 82 percent. Walnut Creek has a 73 percent white population; its officers are 80 percent. Finally, Brentwood’s white population is 56 percent with 72 percent of its officers are white.

While many numbers skew to show an overwhelming white population in police departments, one area department actually had a higher showing of minority officers than residents.

In the latest Census data, the San Leandro Police Department had a force that was 33 percent white and 47.6 percent African-American. The city of San Leandro’s population is 26 percent white.

Lacks of diversity in police departments may brew a lack of trust amongst minorities, according to some researchers. Residents believe police have a significant amount of power and there needs to be trust on both sides, many of these residents believe a more diverse police force will help alleviate these trust issues.

Micaela Davis, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California said it is both surprising and concerning to see this trend perpetuating in the area. Davis said this has been an issue for decades in the Bay Area and there needs to be a solution as quickly as possible, especially with departments across the country under such scrutiny.

Many city officials agree that a diverse workforce is very important but also note that race is not a deciding factor in the hiring process. Good character and the ability to make smart decisions are expected regardless of race.

Hensley said one stumbling block when it comes to a more diverse police force is the applicants themselves. He said each city strives to have a diverse police department, but they simply don’t receive the same number of applications from minority demographics.

Ohio Democrats file public records suit in Ohio Supreme Court

GavelThursday afternoon, the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court to press Ohio Governor, John Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor to release public records.

The records in question are written communication between employees who resigned from Taylor’s office earlier in the year. [Read more...]

Pennsylvania counties could save big with electronic storage

Data CenterA new law could save counties in Pennsylvania thousands of dollars by storing court records electronically. This law would help modernize storage and save money by limiting the process and storage of paper copies and microfilm.

State Senator Matt Smith said it will save the state a significant amount of tax dollars. It is estimated that Allegheny County alone could see a saving of $230,000 annually in storage costs. [Read more...]

Florida court restricts physician speech on gun ownership

HandgunA Florida appeals court stated on Friday that it is constitutional to restrict what a physician can tell its patients about gun ownership. The court said regulating professional conduct does not violate freedom of speech rights under the First Amendment.

Physicians caught breaking this law could be fined and lose their medical licenses.

The Florida appeals court upheld the law by a 2-1 decision as a protection of patient privacy rights. It said any limits imposed by it were incidental. [Read more...]

Records request consumes months of government resources

StressPublic records are designed to keep government agencies accountable for their actions and also to help individuals find information they need in the pursuit of personal, legal, and business pursuits. In theory, public records are the epitome of transparent government. In practice, public records do indeed serve this purpose, but the reality of carrying out a request can be much more daunting than one might initially think.

In December of 2013, for example, Port Orchard, Washington resident Randy Jones filed a public records requests asking for email correspondence details between a few very specific groups and [Read more...]

Massachusetts Governor vetoes MBTA retirement fund exemption

DeniedOn Friday, July 11, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed that state’s final 2015 budget. As part of his overall review and budget approval, the Governor chose to veto a provision that suggested the state’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) retirement fund be exempted from the state’s existing public records laws. His position was that his desire is to see greater transparency in government, and that this exemption would be a step in the wrong direction. [Read more...]

Bay County Appraiser warns residents about property assessment scam

MoneyThere is currently a mail solicitation circulating around the Bay County area from a company calling itself the “Record Transfer Services.” The company offers individuals a copy of their property assessment profile and a copy of the deed to their property for a fee of $83.

When news of this company reached Dan Sowell, Bay County Property Appraiser, he immediately posted a notice on his website to urge the public to save their money, and not fall for this scam because the information is readily available on his site at no cost to the inquirer. Sowell illustrated that on the bottom of the company’s solicitation, it reads that the information they’re providing is online. [Read more...]

Massachusetts SWAT teams don’t need to respond to public records requests

Police LineWhat does a SWAT team have in common with the Girl Scouts of America? It depends on whether they’re located in Massachusetts and the ACLU tries to get records out of them.

On June 24, the ACLU published the results of a year-long study into militarization and American police forces. To do so, it analyzed records of 800 separate SWAT deployments that occurred during 2011-2012 amongst 20 different federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. [Read more...]