Police Chief Brian James at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14 was finally allowed to talk about the racial disparities in police traffic stops.
The topic played a major role in the discussions about requiring police officers to obtain a signed written consent form before conducting a consent search – a resolution that was narrowly voted down by the City Council.
James had started to talk about the racial disparity in police interactions with the public during several of the previous discussions, but this time he was allowed to finish.
In an answer to a question from Councilmember Sharon Hightower about why so many black people get stopped, James said, “I will say this, police work is part of this big puzzle in racial disparity. But when I look at where all of the crime is occurring, not all of the crime but a lot of the crime is occurring, but I’m just going to tell you as a black man it’s occurring in neighborhoods where black people live. That’s where a lot of our crime is occurring, particularly our violent crime. Again we talked about where we are on homicides right now, and I will tell you there is a disproportionality in who are victims of homicides and it is also disproportionate in where they are occurring.
“Just from an operational standpoint, each day when I’m looking at crime stats and my people are looking at crime stats and we are also listening to complaints from citizens, we are going to send officers to those areas where the crime is occurring. And that is, in and of itself, is going to create a disproportionality in who we contact on a daily basis.
“Now as far as what’s going on in neighborhoods and things like that, that’s much bigger than the Police Department and I think we all have to work together.
“But from a police standpoint, I have to send officers to the areas where crime is actually occurring and that is where the disparities are coming in.”
Earlier in the discussion Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter had talked about the fact that of the 39 homicides in Greensboro this year 34 of the homicide victims were African-American men.