RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) – Virginia’s recent criminal justice reforms include a closer look at police traffic stops.
And now, there’s a tool to help Virginians understand what’s happening in their communities.
The Virginia Community Policing Act was passed in 2020, and expanded in 2021.
With each traffic stop, state law requires the officer to collect, and the law enforcement agency to report, several pieces of information, including: the race, ethnicity and gender of the person who was stopped, the reason for the traffic stop and whether or not the officer, or the citizen, used physical force.
Anyone can view the statistics online, and officials with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services are now analyzing the data collected so far.
Their report is due in the next few weeks.
“We’re going through the data very carefully,” said DCJS Research Manager Jim McDonough. “We want to make sure we get it right.”
Da’Quan M. Love is the Executive Director of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.
Love said the new public portal is a start. But the civil rights group will continue to press lawmakers for more information that he says would provide a more complete picture.
“It’s important that we celebrate the progress that has been made,” Love told WDBJ7 in an interview Friday afternoon. “I think that we’re an inch further in the right direction, but in no way shape or form are we satisfied in full.”
He also said more agencies, including police departments of Virginia colleges and universities, should be required to collect and report traffic stop information.
Of the 366 agencies that are subject to the reporting requirement, state officials say nine have submitted no information.
In our part of western Virginia, the list includes the Boones Mill Police Department.
In a telephone conversation Friday afternoon, Chief Dennis Deacon said the department has collected the data, but doesn’t have it in a format that’s easily shared with the State Police. He said the department is working on the issue.
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