To report this story, The Times filed a request for information on bike stops that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies made from 2017 to the end of July.
More than 44,000 stops made during this period were recorded in the department’s database as bike stops. The department provided data on each stop, including the race of the rider, the location of the stop, the reason for the stop and the type of search performed, if any.
Latinos made up 70% of cyclists stopped by sheriff’s deputies during that time, according to the Times analysis. To put that number into context, reporters compared it to the 51% share of the Latino population in the sheriff’s patrol area, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. This rate of bike arrest was also compared to an estimated 53% share of Latinos involved in bicycle crashes in the department’s jurisdiction from 2014 to 2018, according to an analysis of crash data from the California Highway Patrol and of the Transportation Injury Mapping System at UC Berkeley. .
To calculate the total number of miles of bike lanes by neighborhood, The Times used bike lane data from the Southern California Assn. of Governments, US Census Bureau road data, and Los Angeles County Department of Public Works maps for reference. The analysis included cycle paths and cycle lanes.
To contextualize the Sheriff’s Department’s search rates, reporters gathered data on other major law enforcement agencies in the state. The Oakland Police Department, which collected and released data on bike stops and searches from 2016 to 2019, offered the most relevant comparison.
The California Department of Justice collects data on stops by police and sheriff’s departments under the state’s racial identity and profiling law. The 15 largest law enforcement agencies in the state were required to report data for 2019. Using this database, The Times was able to calculate and compare search rates for all stops in these departments.
However, because state data does not distinguish between traffic, pedestrian, or bicycle stops, it was not possible to accurately compare county bike stop and search rates. . An attempt to do this by analyzing stops by sheriff’s deputies made for violating bicycle laws resulted in an undercount of stops, the Times found.
The undercount was due to the fact that cyclists can be arrested for travel violations that are not specifically related to bicycles. Sheriff officials confirmed to The Times that the data provided by the department more accurately represented bike stops than state data.
The Times reviewed 100 arrests that began with a bike stop. Because the Sheriff’s Department bike stop data did not include the names of the cyclists, The Times cross-referenced it with the Sheriff’s Department’s daily arrest logs and identified 63 people involved in 100 arrests.
A review of court records revealed that more than 80 of the arrests resulted in new charges being laid or were the result of an outstanding warrant. Reporters obtained district attorney notes for four cases in which prosecutors explained why they declined to press charges.