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Data shows use of stop-and-frisk by Charlottesville police continues to decline

The Charlottesville Police Department’s use of what it calls “investigative detentions” is continuing to decline based on data presented by the city.

However, a discrepancy with the reporting metrics makes it difficult to determine just how many people are encountered in so-called “stop-and-frisks.”

While the data shows a slight rise between August and October in the number of people stopped, the monthly average of investigative detentions appears to have dropped since data was first reported last year.

The data, first presented in September 2018, includes information about officer-initiated and dispatch-initiated encounters.

The data, however, is not the total picture. Department spokesman Tyler Hawn said that the number of encounters and people stopped doesn’t factor in people who were stopped more than once. For example, if someone is stopped twice and arrested each time during one month, that would count as one encounter and two arrests.

Therefore, it’s not entirely certain how many times people have been stopped.

Hawn said that, starting with December data, the public presentations will note if someone was encountered more than once.

Based on the data presented, between September and November, police stopped an average of 41 people a month, down 38% from the same three-month period in 2018.

“[T]hese numbers are always fluid and are influenced by a variety of factors to include increased volume and non-officer-initiated calls and contacts, staffing, other special events and decreased discretionary time for the officers,” Hawn said in an emailed statement.

Between August and November, 165 people were stopped in at least 136 encounters with police, according to the data. Of those stopped, 85 were black, 73 were white and one was Asian, according to data provided by the Charlottesville Police Department.

In that timeframe, an average of 41 people were stopped in at least 34 encounters per month.

Police arrested 83 people through the practice during the four-month period, 41 each of black and white people and one Asian person, according to the data.

November had the fewest detentions of any month since data was first reported, with 30 people stopped in 28 encounters with police.

Black people are still far more likely to encounter an officer in the city than are white people based on their percentage of the population.

Between August and November, Belmont and The Corner saw the most people stopped with 20 each, followed by downtown at 15.

Over the four-month period, the largest number of African Americans were stopped downtown, in Belmont and on The Corner, with eight people at each location.

White people were stopped most often in Belmont and on The Corner, with 12 people encountered, followed by downtown with seven people.

Since data was first released in September 2018, 757 people have been stopped in at least 601 encounters with police. The data doesn’t indicate how many, if any, of the people stopped have been encountered more than once.

The data provided also only includes information on why someone was arrested in an officer-initiated stop, not a stop based off a dispatch call. For those, the data only lists whether someone was arrested or not and doesn’t say why they were arrested.

Of the people stopped, 397, or 52%, were black;, 352, or 46%, were white; and six, or 0.4%, were Asian.

Overall, 55% of the people stopped were released with no charges. For African Americans, 58% of those stopped have been released compared with 54% of white people.

Charlottesville officers stop, on average, 50 people a month across 40 encounters leading to 22 arrests. Black people are stopped 26 times a month, compared with 22 white people.

Based on their percentage of the city’s population, about 17%, black people are more likely to be stopped by an officer in the city.

Overall, Belmont has seen the most people stopped, at 92, followed by The Corner with 75, downtown with 74, the Downtown Mall with 56 and Fifeville at 51.

The data, however, shows a downward trend. The average number of stops has decreased every month since data was first reported, and the average number of people stopped has dropped all but one month.


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