CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Recommendations from the Charleston Police Department’s racial bias audit last year suggested that improving traffic stops and the data collected from them was one of the primary areas that needed improvement.
The Citizen’s Police Advisory Council says they have formed a few different subcommittees, and one of those is the Traffic Stop Subcommittee. That group says they are meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss a new traffic stop data program that started on Jan. 1.
Charleston Police Department Director of Research and Procedural Justice Wendy Stiver says the department wants to do a better job of analyzing the racial disparities of who is stopped by police and why.
Stiver says the racial bias audit revealed that they were not able to analyze traffic stops properly because of the way information was stored. She says previously, officers had to log traffic stops, but for example, if a ticket was written, it was logged differently.
Stiver says the new program will collect all traffic stop data in one place.
The department is now using “field contact cards” as a new method and Stiver says all officers have to fill out a specific form every time they stop someone. That includes if that person is riding a bike, or walking as well.
Stiver says these contact cards will collect 100% of traffic stop data and will be audited by supervisors to look for errors or omissions of data entry.
“The ideal condition is if we enter data once, and then it can be extracted for all these different reasons,” Stiver said. “One of which is analyzing and reporting out to the community what’s going on with these traffic stops.”
At the end of the year, Stiver says they will be able to analyze and publicly report all of the traffic stop data. This includes all information about a person, including race, as well as where and exactly when they were stopped.
Stiver says interested can tune in to learn more about the new program at Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting. That meeting will be held over Zoom call and can be accessed with the Meeting ID: 868 3809 3009 or by conference call at 1-929-205-6099.
There will be a presentation on the new program during the Zoom meeting and Stiver says the new method could change throughout the year as they evaluate its success.