The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously passed a resolution that would change town policing policies.
These new measures were created by the police department along with local groups to reduce racial bias when it comes to local policing.
“Nationally and locally law enforcement is actually waking up to the fact that many of our activities, long thought and taught as good, old-fashioned police work can lead to unintended consequences for some members of our community,” said Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue.
In order to help solve the problem locally, Blue said Chapel Hill police will run a pilot program in which officers will wear body cameras.
The department has received a grant for pilot program and Blue said he expects it to begin the next few weeks.
“After doing a pilot and fixing the bugs that perhaps we didn’t anticipate, we’ll look for a full implementation of a body camera policy soon,” he said.
According to Open Data Policing NC, African Americans make up 10 percent of the population of Chapel Hill, but account for 25 percent of all traffic stops and 42 percent of traffic stops that result in the search of a vehicle.
To help reduce that number, the department is increasing the standards required for officers to search a vehicle.
It will also provide written documentation for consent searches, in which an officer does not have probable cause, but requests to search a vehicle.
“Nationally we know racial disparities have been found in the area of consent searches,” Blue said. “The use of a form informs drivers of their right to refuse such searches and it adds integrity to cases for prosecution.”
Among other changes, the department will conduct a quarterly review of stop, search and arrest data to check for any racial biases. It will update the council quarterly, and provide a yearly presentation.
Racial equity training will now be required for all police officers.
Councilwoman Donna Bell said she thinks this is a small piece in a larger conversation.
“I only mention that because I don’t want us to think that if we get bias in policing down then we’re done,” she said. “There are issues around housing, transportation, access to services that we would partner with the county on, places that we really need to do work.”