Will Hendrick, a member of the coalition, said he hopes there is recognition that the issue of racial bias merits a response.
“We are at a time where public interest is greater than it has been in recent memory,” Hendrick said. “This is not the end but the beginning of an ongoing conversation.“
Hendrick said implicit bias affects everyone but emphasized the importance of mitigating any bias in those individuals in a position of power.
Capt. Chris Atack, spokesman for the Carrboro Police Department, said the Board of Alderman is putting together a response to the coalition’s report. The department has been considering the use of body cameras, one of the coalition’s recommendations.
In April, the department said they had begun evaluating different body camera systems about 18 to 20 months previously. At a Board of Aldermen meeting at the end of March, the N.C. American Civil Liberties Union collaborated with the Carrboro Police Department to present a draft proposing details of a plan to institute body cameras.
Some aldermen expressed concerns about the effect of body cameras on people’s privacy and rules for using the cameras while at schools.
The draft presented at the March meeting said the police department hoped to purchase 41 body cameras in total.
Chief Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department said the department has been addressing racial bias and already has a number of the coalition’s reforms underway. The department conducts periodic reviews, has dashboard cameras, is testing different types of body cameras and has begun training in racial equity for the officers.
This summer, the department will implement a policy that requires written consent before conducting a search.
“When you have fair and equitable policing, you have more effective policing,” said James Williams Jr., an attorney and member of the coalition.
The coalition’s report also includes data that shows African-American and Hispanic motorists are disproportionately stopped in Orange County, and once stopped, their vehicles are more likely to be searched.
“We want people of color to experience policing in the same way that white people do. If you look at the data, that is not happening,” Williams said.
The Orange County Bias Free Policing Coalition repre- sents citizen groups like the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, Organizing Against Racism N.C. and the Marion Cheek Jackson Center.
They have asked the law enforcement agencies and governing bodies to respond to their report by July 3.
“In our community, we have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of North Carolina,” Hendrick said. “Bias is not unique, but our response to bias may be unique.”