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Chapel Hill police department releases quarterly report

The Chapel Hill Police Department has released a quarterly report to increase transparency and accessibility of police activity.

The quarterly reports contain categories based on a combination of community input and internal metrics the police department has identified as important.

The Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Justice in Action Committee helped the police department in implementing quarterly reports to increase transparency. 

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said although these reports make it easier for people to find data in one place, the Chapel Hill Police Department has posted similar data for many years. 

“If anything is going to increase and improve trust and relationships, it’s transparency, it’s candor, it’s honesty, it’s a willingness to say here it is and here’s what we think about the data," he said. "And tell us what you think and we will try to adapt.”

Blue said the department has heard from the community that low level marijuana possessions are not an enforcement priority. He said this can be seen in the quarterly report where there was a significant decrease of marijuana charges.

The quarterly report shows a decrease in the number of charges for No Operator's Licenses (NOLs) from this year to last in response to community feedback. NOLs are given when a person is pulled over and does not have a license to show police.

“We’ve heard from our community that if they are legally unable to get a driver's license but are otherwise following the law, then maybe it’s not a huge priority that we charge them,” Blue said.

Further efforts to increase police transparency in Chapel Hill include the body worn cameras. The department has purchased a total of 45 body worn cameras for front-line officers.

“The capability to go back and look at an encounter and figure out what you can learn from that, how you might train better, or council, or mentor an employee, or provide feedback for a community member. That’s just priceless stuff, ” Blue said.

Town Council Member Michael Parker said transparency concerns have arisen due to national and local events. He said he hopes in the future these quarterly reports will allow the town council to spot emerging concerns early and be proactive about it.

Town Council Member Nancy Oates said she acknowledges that some communities don’t see police officers as someone to turn to when they need help, she believes these reports will increase trust in the communities.

Blue said he was proud of the long history of transparency in Chapel Hill’s police department and hopes these reports can increase that trust in response to national events.

“The work we do is on behalf of our community and hopefully it is representative of what our community expects,” Blue said. “And we think it makes sense to report that out."


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