Supporters of a bill aimed at stopping police from racial profiling celebrated outside of Governor Jerry Brown’s office, after he signed the bill into law over the weekend.
The controversial piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 953, was promoted by civil rights groups as a step toward equality under the law.
Many viewed it as a call for change and equality answered.
"California now will have the strongest law in the country to collect data on law enforcement encounters with the community so that we can address the insidious problem of racial profiling,” said Betty Hung, with the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Each supporter carried a picture of someone who died, they say, as a result of police brutality.
"We're thankful that Governor Brown has the courage to stand up and show us that he is a civil rights man,” said California ACLU member Chauncee Smith.
Under the bill, law enforcement statewide will have to document the race of the person they've stopped, along with the reason for the stop and whether it resulted in a citation or an arrest.
That data will then go to the attorney general’s office and a new advisory board to review whether law enforcement's behavior shows any racial bias.
"We've got a problem, we've got officers who are not reporting what they're doing,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who sponsored the bill.
"We have brought to life what many communities have known for many years. There has been some bias in policing, unfavorable bias against African-Americans and Latinos,” Weber said.
Many agencies, including the Fraternal Order of Police asked Brown to veto the bill -- saying the reporting requirements would bog down police and be costly to taxpayers.
The CHP estimates carrying out this new law may cost the department about $9 million a year.
California Highway Patrol said in a statement:
“The CHP intends to fully comply with the requirements outlined in this new law, and already collects much of the data it mandates. Racial profiling and discrimination are prohibited by CHP policy and state law and will not be tolerated. CHP employees regularly receive training on racial and cultural differences among residents of this state and are expected to serve the public and enforce the law fairly without regard to a person’s race, gender or ethnicity.”
But the bill’s supporters disagree with law enforcement.
"[The bill] makes law enforcement’s job fact driven,” Smith said.
Weber and her supporters hope California sets a precedent for the rest of the country.