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Stanford University Releases Results of Groundbreaking Analysis of Oakland Police Body Camera Footage

Tuesday, Jun 06, 2017 | News Update

Oakland, CA – Stanford University released the findings of an important and ground-breaking study yesterday analyzing Oakland police officers’ speech, as captured by body-worn cameras, in making vehicle and pedestrian stops.

“Words are power.  And this study shows that the words police officers use are consequential,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I'm proud that the Oakland Police Department is the first department to allow a university to do a deep analysis on our officers' body-worn camera footage and other stop data to help rebuild the community trust necessary to make Oakland a truly safe city. I am committed to ending racial disparities in policing, and our partnership with Stanford is helping us get there.”

OPD’s engagement with Stanford for this independent study and the report recommendations offer a model for how police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country can examine their organizations and make changes to help track and mitigate disparities in policing to ensure more equitable outcomes and a better qualitative experience when police encounters do occur.

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said, “When I came to Oakland, I committed to not only lead this Department, but to make OPD one of the best police departments in the country. This type of work is cutting edge and progressive in the law enforcement arena. It is imperative that we, as department, examine our interactions, communications and trust-building efforts with our community. This is an opportunity for the Department to look at its current training practices and use the findings in this report to enhance the professional development of our officers and professional staff alike.”

In 2014, OPD began an important collaboration with Stanford University’s S.P.A.R.K.S. Program as a proactive approach to analyze OPD’s traffic and pedestrian stop data and body-worn camera program. OPD is the first law enforcement agency in the country to allow an external academic partner to examine data collected from vehicle and pedestrian stops and analyze body-worn camera footage.

The Stanford report on the stop data analysis, led by social psychologist and MacArthur grant recipient Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, was released in 2016 and is available here. It made 50 recommendations in four categories that will result in critical changes to the Oakland Police Department’s organizational values and culture:  1) data analysis, 2) policies and practices, 3) training, and 4) positive community engagement. OPD has already implemented half of the recommendations and fully supports complete implementation of all 50 recommendations. 

For the analysis of body-worn camera footage, OPD provided Stanford researchers with 1,000 Personal Data Recording Device files from 2014. Stanford released a report of their findings from this study today.

OPD has come a long way since April 2014, which was the point in time the data analyzed in this study occurred. In May 2014, OPD implemented Procedural Justice Training Program for all employees. Procedural justice training aims to enhance positive interactions with the community, focusing on four principles: giving people a voice, being fair/unbiased, being respectful and providing a trustworthy process. These are core values OPD teaches to every member of the Department.

Along with procedural justice training, the Department has held community “Living Room” meetings, where small groups of neighbors gather with OPD representatives to listen, share information and learn from each other. The Department has also improved community trust-building efforts through the creation of youth outreach programs, the "Barbershop Conversation" series, and our citizens' police academies.

The Oakland Police Department will continue to collaborate with the Stanford research team as a demonstration of its strong commitment to providing the Oakland community with the highest quality policing practices. There is much more work ahead.

Deputy Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said, “I was born and raised in the city of Oakland; this is my community and it is the community that our officers and professional staff serve. As we continue our efforts to be transparent, it should be known that the Department volunteered to begin this crucial work in understanding how we interact and communicate with the members of our community. This is ground-breaking work with the use and adoption of technology as we look at how we continue to build trust and healthier relationships.”