“Every time an officer stops a car, we have to fill out a report,” he said. “It captures the data for the purpose of the stop, occupant information and what action we take.”
The main reason police stop cars is for speeding. Where the police are most worried about bias, however, is in equipment and regulatory stops.
Chief Horton said that the police department is making an effort to lower equipment and regulatory stops. This way the driver doesn’t have to go to court or pay for a ticket over a minor infraction.
“To get your car inspected — that’s 25 to 30 dollars,” he said. “If you’ve got something going on and can’t get it fixed, it starts that cycle.”
The Department is also trying to cut back on the number of marijuana charges, which historically have a racial bias. Chief Horton said while marijuana is a less important offense, it is dangerous when people drive high or get into arguments over the sale.
“We look at if it’s packaged for sale or delivery, or something like that in large amounts, then that’s when we deal with it,” he said.
The Board of Aldermen presented the Police Department with questions beforehand about possible bias against immigrants or Muslims in Carrboro, but Horton said there was no evidence of profiling against these groups.
“Immigration, that’s the hot topic right now,” Horton said. “But to put it how I said it, we don’t care. That’s the federal agents' job.”
While there has been no racial profiling detected in the statistics gathered by the Department, they also have a software that gives a racial profiling score based on who the police stop on the road.
This program is called RTI STAR. For the Carrboro Police, the RTI STAR analysis shows a p-value of .8121 for African Americans and .7680 for Hispanics. Both of these values indicate that there is no significant racial bias present.
“For the racial profiling to occur, the p-value would have to be .05 or less,” he said. “Ours is much higher as you can see.”
Moving forward, the town is looking for better ways to present this kind of report publically.
“This is also information that we want to share with all of the community, not just those of us who sit here,” Seils said.