Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott has issued a special order to patrol officers to temporarily suspend traffic stops based solely on violations related to vehicle equipment infractions, the department announced this evening.
The order comes on the heels of a scathing investigative report in the New York Times about racial disparities at numerous levels of policing in Greensboro, although Scott and other department leaders have known about data developed by a UNC-Chapel Hill researcher showing disparities since as early as April.
A press release from the department issued today noted that vehicle equipment infractions are typically caught by the state during annual safety inspections.
“The types of stops are clearly an area of concern,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “On its face, the data show that racial disparities in traffic stops do exist. However, the numbers alone cannot possibly tell us the reasons for these differences. While we work on getting a better understanding of this complex issue, I believe it’s better to focus our efforts on engaging with our public in a way that’s more meaningful.”
The department plans to host a meeting with other North Carolina police chiefs to discuss racial disparities in policing, and has requested academic researchers at NC A&T University and UNCG to analyze the Greensboro data.
Scott said in today’s press release that based on the final report by the academic researchers and a review of empirical data and anecdotal feedback after the temporary suspension of vehicle equipment stops, the department might make the changes permanent and make adjustments to training.