NORFOLK, Va. - There is now an online resource that the Norfolk Police Department hopes will improve police-community relations by providing more transparency when it comes to local arrests.
Last year, Norfolk City Council passed a resolution for improved police report transparency after the high-profile deaths of Black people at the hands of police, which sparked protests nationwide, including in Hampton Roads. The following month, City Manager Chip Filer addressed council members on how the city will move forward to release data with improvements in frequency, level of detail and accessibility.
The city’s CivicLab worked with the Norfolk Police Department over the last year to create the Norfolk Police Data Hub, which provides the public with five years of data, refreshed every weekday, regarding police personnel, citizen complaints and use of force in an interactive, easy to read format. The hub builds on NPD’s ongoing efforts to improve transparency, community relations and policing in Norfolk.
The robust data hub provides officer and citizen demographics for the overall Norfolk population and is broken down by interactions by race. Citizen complaints, allegations and findings are also included. Arrest demographics are displayed side by side with population demographics. Use-of-force data is available by ZIP code as well as by demographics.
The raw data used for the data hub is available in a table embedded in the hub as well as in the city’s Open Data portal. A glossary, including links to applicable policies, is available and provides definitions of policing terms that may be unfamiliar to the public.
During the rolling five-year period spanning from July 9, 2016, through July 12 of this year, Norfolk Police received 1,246,335 calls for service. Use-of-force was reported in 2,071, or roughly 0.17%, of those calls. Some calls resulted in multiple types of force for a total of 2,638 use-of-force incidents.
Norfolk Police used empty/soft control technique in 62% (1,647) of incidents. Use-of-force incidents resulted in arrest in 82% (1,693) of cases.
There were four citizen fatalities, all of which the city says involved a suspect attacking an officer with a weapon.
The police department's policy requires a use-of-force report every time an officer must do more than routine use of handcuffs or hands to hold, guide or lead a person.
In an ongoing effort to improve community relations, the city announced Norfolk Police has partnered with the Center for Policing Equity. It will be the first city to participate in the COMPSTAT for Justice program. This multi-year program includes a rigorous review of police data and practices with recommendations to reduce racial disparities and inequities.
Click here to see the Norfolk Police Data Hub.