BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a release Tuesday about the report on the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) from 2017.
In the 2017 report the ACLU stated that Kern County Law enforcement had been using excessive force such as deadly shootings, beatings, and canine attacks. According to the report the excessive force targeted unarmed individuals, people of color, and people that are mentally ill at disproportionate rates. This was seen as a violation of civil rights.
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) started an investigation of the Bakersfield Police Department.
“The Bakersfield Police Department has carried out discriminatory and harmful practices against the people of Bakersfield for far too long,” said ACLU SoCal Staff Attorney Stephanie Padilla in the release. “It is long past time for the DOJ and the city to bring these abuses to an end."
The release from Tuesday stated that they did they had seen little change in the four years since the past report. Their conclusion was based of the following findings from DOJ data and other public records.
- BPD remains one of the deadliest police departments in the country, shooting unarmed individuals and people with mental illness with alarming frequency. And state DOJ statistics show that from 2018 to 2020, 83% of BPD shootings resulting in serious bodily injury or death to Black or Hispanic individuals.
- BPD continues to use canines to attack and seriously injure individuals at rates similar to when the state DOJ began its investigation. In 2020, for example, 89% of police canine attacks targeted Black and Hispanic individuals.
- BPD continues to use charges, such as “resisting arrest,” as a justification for racial profiling as well as excessive force.
- BPD’s use-of-force policy fails to comply with the law.
Following the release BPD issued a response stating that the ACLU issued the report with engaging with the department to fact-check or allow clarification on their conclusions.
According to the release, BPD is concerned that ACLU used “out-of-context statistics” to generate publicity.
“The misinformation contained in the document is irresponsible and without regard for the men and women who put their lives at risk every day to protect the community,” said BPD in a news release.
BPD states that they are committed to protecting the community and serve all residents with respect, compassion, and accountability.
23ABC reached out to the DOJ and they did not have a statement.