Testimony delivered on Feb. 15, 2023, by Organizing & Political Director Jeffrey Karahamuheto urging the SD City Council Public Safety Committee to include PrOTECT (Preventing Overpolicing Through Equitable Community Treatment) in its 2023 workplan.

Good afternoon, Councilmember von Wilpert and Councilmembers.

My name is Jeffrey Alonzo Karahamuheto. I am the organizing & political director at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a proud member of the Coalition for Police Accountability & Transparency (CPAT).

We are here today to urge this committee to address biased policing in our city by adding the PrOTECT ordinance to its 2023 Work Plan. We are extremely disappointed that Councilmember von Wilpert chose not to include the ordinance for consideration.

PrOTECT seeks to reduce interactions between police and community members by limiting when San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officers can stop and search people. It requires officers to have probable cause for stops, searches and other lines of questioning beyond the reason for the stop.  

Countless stories from impacted people as well as research and reports spanning two decades confirm biased policing is happening in San Diego. For example, the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) released a report in 2021 that analyzed SDPD-provided data and found, after controlling for factors like crime and poverty, SDPD officers stopped Black people for non-traffic offenses 4.8 times more often than white people; and used force against Black people 4.6 times more often than they did on white people.

Over the years, CPAT members and numerous other concerned groups and individuals have shared with many of you why our city needs this important ordinance. The fact is that we can neither hire nor train our way out of this serious problem.

The harm and long-lasting trauma caused by SDPD will continue unless you take action. San Diegans deserve laws that explicitly safeguard communities from biased policing. PrOTECT offers real solutions that address real issues felt by real people – people who are unlikely to be represented here today because they have jobs and families to care for, but your decision can have a significant impact on their lives.

The problems are evident and immense. To ignore them would be a violation of your civic and moral duty to serve the people you represent.

PrOTECT is your opportunity to demonstrate through decisive action your commitment to racial justice and equity.

We urge this committee to add PrOTECT to your 2023 Work Plan.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration.