MPD director nominee talks posting traffic stop demographic data

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.  – Mayor Jim Strickland’s nominee for Memphis Police Department director spoke Friday about her current department’s practice of posting traffic stop data online.  

It came up during a virtual question and answer session with Memphians.   

“We need to regularly analyze data related to police officer encounters which could point to racial profiling and other abuses,” said CJ Davis, who is currently chief of the Durham, North Carolina Police Department.  

The data, which is published on the City of Durham’s website, includes the number of traffic stops made in a given period and the race of the drivers.  

Durham traffic stop data for 2020

One of the Durham Police Department’s reports notes that 61% of the people pulled over in Durham during the first half of 2020 were Black, while only 41% of Durham’s population is Black. 

A 2017 ordinance requires police in Nashville to publish this kind of information every year. But Josh Spickler with justice reform group Just City says there’s no publicly available information for Memphis traffic stops. 

“I think we have a good idea of who police are pulling over, but we certainly don’t have data, and if you don’t have data, you can’t adjust your practices and your policies, and so generating this data is a first start,” said Spickler.  

Thursday, Spickler emailed Memphis City Council members stressing the importance of having this information. 

When asked if she would make any such data public should she get the MPD job, Davis said she would.  

“We will make them transparent,” she said.  

“It’s really encouraging to hear that that’s on the table, that it’s the kind of thing that this police director would do,” said Spickler.  

While Memphis City Council still needs to approve Davis’ nomination before she gets the job, the City of Durham has already appointed an interim police chief to take over her current job on June 12.  

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