The Charlottesville Police Department has hired an analyst to examine its stop-and-frisk data.
CPD announced Wednesday that it has hired Larry Jacobs as a Fourth Amendment investigative analyst. He will start Monday.
Department spokesman Tyler Hawn didn’t have Jacobs’ salary, but said the civilian position was advertised with a range between $58,845 and $79,996.
The Fourth Amendment protects residents from unlawful search and seizure and requires probable cause for search warrants to be issued.
Stop-and-frisk commonly refers to the practice of temporarily detaining, questioning and searching people on the street. CPD calls the encounters “investigative detentions” and “warrantless searches.”
Jacobs served 20 years with the Portsmouth Police Department before retiring in 2013, according to his LinkedIn page. After retirement he became a magistrate in 2015, serving Lynchburg and Bedford, Campbell, Amherst and Nelson counties.
Jacobs has a master’s in criminal justice from St. Leo University in Florida and is pursuing a doctorate in public policy administration with a concentration in criminal justice from Walden University in Minnesota.
“I’m looking forward to building a covenant of transparency and trust between the community and the police department, and I will incorporate scientific research methodologies such as triangulation to meet these challenges,” Jacobs said in a press release. “I look forward to working with everyone to continue making Charlottesville a community of trust, inclusion, excellence, and mutual respect.”
Police Chief RaShall Brackney recommended creating the post when she first presented the department’s monthly stop-and-frisk data to the City Council in October 2018. The press release announcing the hiring said it is part of the department’s continued effort to respond to the community’s demands for greater transparency, legitimacy and trust.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker commended Brackney for tackling transparency.
“As we engage in necessary and robust debate regarding defund, and/or reform, and/or abolish [the police] in an attempt to intimately define our local movement and come to an agreement on a local process, we have a new civilian position that will hopefully begin to restore trust in our police department,” she said in a press release.
Jacobs will review investigative detention and case reports, review body-worn camera video to verify those reports and compile the monthly data that is posted on the department’s website. He will review evidence to determine if officer-initiated stops align with department policy and federal, state and local laws.
“Beyond academe, or social justice organizations, I believe our analyst is the only one of its kind — dedicated to reviewing and triangulating officer-initiated encounters,” Brackney said in the release. “CPD has an obligation to provide the citizens we serve with the most accurate, informed and descriptive statistical analyses of our investigative detentions, and to ensure our policies and practices do not contribute to systems of disproportionately or disparity.”
Since data on the detentions was first presented in September 2018 through October 2020, at least 1,163 people have been stopped across 909 encounters. Of those, 635, or 55%, were Black people and 518, or 45%, were white people. However, Black people only account for 17% of the city’s population.
The data also show police aren’t arresting 56% of people stopped and, when officers initiate stops, they’ve recovered evidence less than half of the time.
The hiring process included Public Defender Elizabeth Murtagh, civil rights attorney Jeff Fogel, Police Civilian Review Board members James Watson and Bellamy Brown and representatives from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, city manager’s office and city attorney’s office.
“The initial first encounter citizens have with the police officer is so important, as there are dire consequences attached to that action, and there are laws that guide officers and department policies that need to be followed,” Murtagh said in the release.
Although Fogel said in the release he was “disappointed” that no applicants with public defender backgrounds applied, he said interviews were “rigorous” and focused on “the values we are trying to promote, including transparency and accountability.”
“It is my hope that reliable, accurate reporting about arrests and street encounters, albeit not accessible to the public, will assist the credibility of the police department,” he said.
When the position was first advertised in 2019, activists were concerned it was in response to discussions around the CRB. The initial proposal for the CRB called for an independent auditor serving the board to examine data and trends beyond investigative detentions.
In approving the final structure for the board, the City Council signed off on an executive director who would provide a report on the need for such a position within six months of being hired. The director position has not yet been filled.
“In participating in the final round of the hiring process, I found it to be thorough and well-conducted, and it is my hope that this role will succeed in creating greater transparency and fostering trust with the community that the Charlottesville Police Department serves,” Brown said in the release. “I am grateful to Chief Brackney for including members of the Police Civilian Review Board in the process; and hope to continue a collaborative environment in our aim to serve our community members.”