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Charlottesville's stop-and-frisk data largely unchanged by pandemic

The Charlottesville Police Department’s use of what it calls “investigative detentions” was at an all-time low in June after reaching a six-month high in May.

The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem to have had much overall impact on the department’s use of the practice, commonly called stop-and-frisk, although it is changing the neighborhood encounters.

Black people remain far more likely to encounter an officer in the city than white people based on their percentage of the population, which is about 17%.

Since the data was first presented in September 2018, at least 1,039 people have been stopped across 814 encounters. Of those 564, or 54% were black, and 467, or 45%, were white.

Since then, police have conducted 453 arrests, of which 224 were white people, 224 were Black and five were Asian.

The number of encounters could be higher because, before December, the information didn’t factor in people who were stopped more than once. The public data presented for the past three months does not indicate that anyone was stopped more than once.

Between April and June, police stopped an average of 36 people in 26 encounters per month, both the lowest numbers over a three-month period since data was first reported. Police arrested an average of 15 people per month.

While the numbers are trending downward, the rate of decline is much sharper for white people than Black people.

The number of Black people stopped per month is down 27%, as is the number of Black people arrested. In comparison, police are stopping white people 53% less than September 2018 and arresting them 53% less.

The average number of people stopped per month is down 42% and the number of arrests are down 43%.

Between April and June, officers stopped a total of 108 people in 80 encounters, both low marks compared to other three-month periods. Of the people stopped, 68 were Black and 40 were white. Forty-seven people were arrested, of whom 27 were Black and 20 were white.

Rose Hill Drive saw the most stops over the three months with 14, followed by Ridge Street with eight and 29 North with six. The Corner, which usually sees some of the most encounters, only had one stop. The decline is likely because University of Virginia students were sent home before the school year ended and have yet to fully return to the city.

Black people were stopped the most at Westhaven and Rose Hill Drive, which both saw nine stops, followed by 29 North with six. White people were stopped the most downtown with seven encounters followed by Rose Hill with five and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital with four.

Overall, 129 people have been stopped in Belmont, 96 in downtown and 86 on The Corner. Black people have been stopped 62 times in Belmont and 37 each around Ridge Street and Fifeville.

White people have been stopped 66 times in Belmont, 62 downtown and 58 times on The Corner.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is not drastically changing the department’s use of stop and frisk.

Department spokesman Tyler Hawn said that officers are using personal protective equipment during investigative detentions and the Emergency Communications Center is asking screening questions during calls. Officers are also decontaminating procedures after any close contact and sanitizing vehicles before and after their shifts.

As of Friday, data during the pandemic was only available for March, April, May and June. The pandemic took hold in mid-March but, other than June, the department data is largely in line with other months.

May saw 45 people stopped, of whom 30 were Black, the most in each category since December.

June was by-far the lowest use of investigative detentions with 24 people stopped in 22 encounters. Fourteen of the people stopped were white and 11 were Black. Officers arrested 11 people, of whom seven were white and four were Black.


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