Concerns over stop and frisk racial disparity by Charlottesville Police

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- "They're not open and they're not accountable," exclaimed Charlottesville-based attorney Jeff Fogel.

Sitting in his office, Fogel's frustration with the Charlottesville Police Department and City Council is clear.

"Why is this happening," he asked, pointing at a recent FOIA. "Why won't they show it to anybody? What are they hiding?"

Over the last three years, Fogel has been collecting stop and frisk data from police.

He says what he has been able to get so far is pointing to a troubling trend.

"When you find that 88 percent of the stops of black people do not involve illegal activity, you start to question, 'On what basis are the police stopping people,'" Fogel explained.

According to the data released by police to CBS19, 110 people were stopped and frisked by police in 2015.

About 67 percent of the people stopped were black.

To put that in perspective, a July 2015 census of Charlottesville says black people only account for 19 percent of the city's population.

Of the black people stopped, only 21 percent were actually issued a summons or arrested.

By comparison, 31 percent of the people stopped were white. Of the white people stopped, 34 percent were issued a summons or arrested.

"There is some type of unwarranted fear or suspicion of people of color," Sarad Davenport from the City of Promise said about the data.

Davenport says the disparity in stop and frisk enforcement is likely impacting the relationship between police and certain communities.

"It could lead to distrust, no doubt about it. And it probably has," said Davenport.

"Right now, particularly in the African-American community, there is a lack of trust and this is one of the reasons," added Fogel.

Police have declined to comment on the data despite repeated requests.

Davenport is hoping that, despite their silence, police are doing something about the disparity.

"There needs to be some self-reflection, which I hope there already is," said Davenport. "I'm sure there already is some self-reflection on the data to see if there is some implicit bias"

Fogel says he wants transparency from police about how they go about enforcing the law.

"If it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, the only way that that can happen is if they, the government, tells the truth," Fogel said.

Both Fogel and Davenport believe the racial disparity is not directly caused by racism.

Fogel says it is possible a few bad eggs inside the force could be throwing off the data.

Davenport says it is also possible people have an implicit bias towards black people that they are not aware of and that could be impacting how they enforce the law.

Both agreed there is likely a systemic problem in the way that stop and frisk is enforced.



 
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