The Carrboro Police Department has refined its reporting for traffic checkpoints after the American Civil Liberties Union identified inaccuracies in the process.
During a Board of Aldermen meeting last month, Raul Pinto, attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina , identified that Carrboro police were not reporting checkpoint stops properly, and instead they were recording the individual citations issued.
"It's a widespread problem, you have to list a checkpoint as the reason for a stop when a ticket is issued there, rather than the infraction itself," Pinto said.
"Carrboro is not the only locality that has had this issue before."
He said the ACLU has been focusing on the issue for more than three years in North Carolina after concerns were raised that the checkpoints were unfairly targeting Latino and undocumented communities.
"We got complaints from Latinos that they feel that white drivers are waved through these checkpoints while they are stopped," Pinto said.
Capt. Chris Atack , spokesman for the Carrboro police, said the issue arose from software the department was using.
"In 2009, the (State Bureau of Investigation) started to require this change," Atack said. "With the software we were using, we had no option to select 'checkpoint' as the reason for the stop."
Atack said the issue has been corrected and all data going back to the beginning of 2014 has been changed to the proper designation.
He said the department does not have enough manpower to update the files going back beyond the current calendar year.
Pinto said he was asked to speak about checkpoints by Alderman Sammy Slade, and he discovered the issue while preparing to speak before the Aldermen.
According to a presentation to the board given by Pinto, all checkpoints must be distributed randomly around the municipality and follow a planned pattern regarding which cars are stopped . Ideally, this prevents particular neighborhoods, including majority-Latino areas, from being targeted.
Pinto said the ACLU has not received any complaints specific to Carrboro regarding checkpoints.
Atack said the Carrboro police have not received any complaints on the issue either.
"No one is happy to get a ticket, obviously, but we have not had any complaints in terms of the way we conduct the checkpoints," Atack said.
Going forward, Atack said the department will continue to comply with changes to checkpoints.
"We follow the law of the land," Atack said. "If a court case or a new law from the legislature changes the rules, we will make sure that we are following those changes."
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