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Virginia Beach Police release 2020 traffic stop data including stats related to race, sex, violation

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Posted at 8:50 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 23:23:20-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - News 3 Crime Analyst Richard James has lots of experience with community policing being a 27-year veteran with Norfolk Police.

“It's the police department making sure they're an active part of the community, and the community are active participants in the law enforcement initiative,” James said. “I think there's a lot more work that needs to be done within the law enforcement community in terms of us accepting the philosophy of community policing.”

He's looking into data released by the Virginia Beach Police Department related to 14,844 traffic stops conducted in the second half of 2020.

This week, the department tweeted the report with data collected as part of the Virginia Community Policing Act.

In terms of violations, speeding ranked number one followed by expired, fake or no tags; reckless driving and disregarding red lights.

When looking at traffic stop demographics, about 60% of them were male. White people made up about 56% of stops, while Black people made up about 37%.

A graph is posted next to the city's race demographics of about 67% white and about 20% Black.

“I didn't see anything that would make me think that Virginia Beach is a place that uses bias-based policing as an organization,” James told News 3. “If you look at their demographics, in terms of their population based on race, it seemed like the traffic stops and the interaction with police basically corresponds with the population in the community.”

When looking deeper at enforcement action, Black people ranked the highest in terms of arrests, while white people ranked highest for citations/summons and warnings issued.

“When it came down to them releasing someone on a warning, there's nothing significant in that where white persons were released more often on a warning than a minority person,” James said. “You also have to take into consideration male and female populations. Males are usually more aggressive drivers than female, regardless of race or nationality.”

After looking at this data, James believes Virginia Beach is lower than national averages.

“[The] Virginia Beach Police Department, of course, has been in the news quite frequently,” he said. “They're going to make sure they pay close attention to what their officers are doing. There's a lot of training going on in terms of bias-based policing - not just in Virginia Beach, but in the whole region.”

He said collecting and posting this data is crucial, and conversations should be followed up within the community.

“It's best that the City of Virginia Beach makes it publicly known. If there's anything that they need to tighten up or do better, they can say, ‘Here's the information,” James said. “I think we're heading in the right direction with the state in terms of requiring our police departments to submit this information.”

News 3 reached out to Virginia Beach Police Tuesday afternoon, but the department was not available to talk on camera about their findings.

Click here to see more News 3 Investigations.