Please go to thepetitionsite.com/787/872/078/kelli-linville-stop-predictive-policing-in-bellingham to sign our petition to the mayor.
Despite vocal public opposition, our police department is moving ahead with acquiring the software, and our elected officials say there’s nothing they can do to stop Chief Cook.
We know better. We demand that Mayor Kelli Linville suspend the process of acquiring predictive policing software now.
The software will use the department’s past crime data to help the police identify neighborhoods where they should concentrate patrols. According to the department:
“Predictive policing software tries to harness the power of information, geospatial technologies and evidence-based intervention models to reduce crime and improve public safety. This two-pronged approach—applying advanced analytics to various data sets, in conjunction with intervention models—can move law enforcement from reacting to crimes into the realm of predicting what and where something is likely to happen and deploying resources accordingly.”
Our concern: Bad data in, bad data out. Plugging in data collected through biased policing will lead police to increase their patrols of the communities unfairly affected by bias.
This is not about Bellingham police being good or bad cops. We do not have the data to determine whether Bellingham police racially profile more or less than other law enforcement agencies – because our police department does not currently collect sufficient data.
What we do know is that racial profiling happens everywhere, and that it is bad in Washington State.
A 2011 state-funded study found that in Washington, “race and racial bias matter in ways that are not fair, that do not advance legitimate public safety objectives, that produce disparities in the criminal justice system, and that undermine public confidence in our legal system.”
This study debunked the myth that people of color are incarcerated at disproportionate rates because they commit more crimes. It showed instead that bias distorts decision-making throughout the criminal justice system.
When Police Chief Cook says that neighborhoods with people of color are policed more because that’s where more crimes are committed, he’s wrong. They are neighborhoods where his department’s existing data say more crimes are committed.
Mayor Kelli Linville and Police Chief Clifford Cook already know this. Members of BASOW, Racial Justice Coalition, and other community groups have met with them multiple times in 2015 to present concerns. Instead of engaging with the solutions we propose, the mayor and the Bellingham Police Department is moving ahead with software that threatens to entrench racial profiling, digitally.
Tell the mayor to stop predictive policing software from coming to Bellingham, and engage instead with community concerns.
Profiling risks, lack of transparency among RJC's objections to predictive policing software purchase
Update: Read more about Monday's City Council hearing in this Bellingham Herald article: "Bellingham police to get predictive policing despite concerns"
The Bellingham Racial Justice Coalition was joined by members of the community for a rally in front of Bellingham City Hall before Monday’s City Council Meeting. The group opposes the Bellingham Police Department’s proposed purchase of “Predictive Policing” profiling software, citing a lack of transparency and reasonable notice, and risk of further institutionalizing various forms of police profiling.
Bellingham City Council conducted a hearing on Monday on Bellingham Police Department’s application for a Bureau of Justice grant in the amount of $21,213 in order to purchase “Predictive Policing” software. The software creates “customized crime predictions for the places and times that crimes are most likely to occur, based on years of past questionable data from the local police department.”
The Racial Justice Coalition issued this statement:
The Racial Justice Coalition is a group of concerned community members and organizations seeking to end systemic racism that manifests itself by racist institutional practices and policies. One such institutionally racist practice is racial profiling which leads to the disproportionate stopping, frisking, detaining, arresting and incarceration of people of color nationwide and right here in Whatcom County. The RJC is concerned with the short notice that was given for the community to educate itself regarding the methods by which the Bair program determines which neighborhoods should be the target of extra police actions. Historically, and presently, data presented by law enforcement implies that people of color commit more crimes. The biased policies used by law enforcement, however, lead to more charges and arrests of people of color. If biased data is put into the program, the program will give police biased predictions and data. The RJC asks that the council vote that the city not pursue this grant until the city can obtain the metrics by which the program makes recommendations, and the community is given time to investigate the decision making process and resulting impacts on people of color.
Predictive Policing/Profiling software could legitimize racial profiling, since it bases its predictions, hotspots, and risk ratings on past police data and years of targeting specific communities. Once legitimized, racial profiling will be that much harder to eliminate.
The group gathered in front of City Hall at 6:30 pm. The event provided an opportunity for community reflection about systemic racism.
Bellingham Racial Justice Coalition organized the rally, and included people from diverse races, ages, abilities, and religions.
People attending the event held signs that read “Predictive Policing=Profiling”, “Predictive Policing≠Community Policing, “Stop Racial Profiling,” "White Silence = Violence" and "Stand Against Racism."
“We are concerned about racial profiling and transparency,” said Kim Harris, on behalf of the Racial Justice Coalition. “The Racial Justice Coalition asks that the council direct Chief Cook not to go forward with the grant request until the Council and the impacted community has had time to learn how the software works.”
“We are not born racist,” said Edward Alexander. “We internalize racism and racial bias over the course of years of messages from the stories we tell each other, local news, movies, TV, and the way we use language. A system is nothing more than the individuals that make it up. If we are not part of changing the system, our silence is tacit support for it.”
“I am grateful that our community stands strong against racial profiling,” said Dr. Joseph Garcia. “I encourage Chief Cook to listen to the community.”
“Racial profiling already happens in Bellingham,” said community member Junga Subedar. “This software will only make it worse. Bad data in, bad data out.”
Coalition opposes BPD-proposed purchase of profiling software, without notice and transparency
WHEN: Monday, August 10, 2015, 6:30 pm PT
WHERE: Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St, Bellingham, WA 98225
WHAT: The Racial Justice Coalition opposes the Bellingham Police Department’s recent proposal to purchase software that may result in more racial profiling, until the impacted community has an opportunity for input and more information.
WHO: The Racial Justice Coalition’s mission is to educate our community about racism through nonviolent action based in love and truth. Its vision is a community that is safe, compassionate, and equitable for all people. The RJC is building a movement for racial justice in Bellingham and Whatcom County, and focuses on challenging systemic racism.
FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1607199329531287/
On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown was murdered by police officer Darren Wilson. Mike Brown's death set off a national debate about the use of force in policing and way some communities – particularly low-income communities – are frequently the targets of violent, race-based treatment under the guise of law enforcement. The people took to the streets and one year later, resistance continues as communities stand up against racism and intolerance.
Come out and celebrate the life of Mike Brown and the 1 year anniversary of the Ferguson uprising.
When: 5:30 p.m. vigil, 6 p.m. march
Where: Meet at Cornwall Park (3424 Meridian Street, Bellingham, Washington)
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/114970968849011/