May 9, 2014
We reported earlier this week that the stop and frisk numbers to come out of the City of Charlottesville were higher for African Americans. We talked to the Chief of Police about those numbers and what they say, and what they don’t say.
A new policy implemented by Chief Longo is focused on making sure the city is being fair in their stop and search procedures. It found that in the past year and a half, black people in Charlottesville were frisked in 70 percent of 140 pat downs, white people were frisked in 29 percent of the pat downs.
Charlottesville is one of four localities in the state looking into these kinds of numbers, the other three are part of a pilot program.
Longo says he made the decision to look into it, and he is putting this piece of information out there by choice, because he wants accountability on all sides.
"No one has directed that I do this. This decision was made because it's the right decision and because I cared enough about the importance of this issue to be more proactive about the way we address it.”
But he says to assume based on the numbers what happened in each case is reckless. And in each case, there is a larger story.
"So we can get a sense that the decisions that are being made on the street that impact constitutional rights are good decisions. And that’s really what this is about."
And often more questions that need to be answered. Was the stop based on a call into police? Did police see something suspicious? Was someone stopped arrested as a result?
He says it’s too soon into data collecting to know the big picture.
"Raw statistical data never tells the story and it’s reckless to think otherwise. It suggests and rightly so this looks a little, looks this looks disproportionate. Let’s look at why this is taking place. And figure out if something needs to be done differently."
Chief Longo is very clear. He plans on looking more into the numbers and the stories that go with them. If he should find out that there is a problem, he will do something about it.