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St. Paul Police Release 15 Years of Traffic Stop Data

December 14, 2016 10:40 PM

The St. Paul Police Department has released details on every traffic stop since 2001. It's another move towards better transparency between the department and the community.

Although the number of traffic stops overall is decreasing, city-wide, black men and women consistently make up about 30 percent of the stops even though only about 16 percent of the city's population is black, according to the 2010 census.

"It's a normal part of the day for a black male in St. Paul, Minneapolis and across America," said Tyrone Terrill, chair of the St. Paul African-American Leadership Council.

It was part of a much larger conversation happening inside Grooming House Barber Shop.

"If we ask every black customer that comes into this barber shop, 'Have you been stopped by the police?' we already know the answer to the question."

The new traffic stop data published by St. Paul Police details every stop from over the last 15 years.

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It's broken down by race, region and, when available, reason.

"Many traffic stops, they don't result in a citation so we have no way of knowing why those cars were being stopped," said Chief Todd Axtell. He's made it a point to gather and publish this data since he took over the department this summer.

Starting in 2017, St. Paul officers will also document the reason behind the traffic stop even when a citation isn't given.
Then they'll meet with superiors once a year to go over individual data to see if there are any patterns of racial bias.

"It's just important to note that an overwhelming majority of our officers go out there every day and they serve with dignity and respect and they do the best job that they possibly can and I'm incredibly proud of them," said Chief Axtell.

Terrill welcomes the information but plans to comb through it over the weekend and have a conversation with the chief, himself, about what he finds in the 4 million data points now available online.

The chief welcomes the conversations to come and hopes this new data-driven approach will help the entire Capital City renew relationships.

"We need to do a better job of sharing the information that we have so we can have the courageous conversations about how we're doing our job," said Axtell.

St. Paul's NAACP President Jeff Martin also weighed in on the traffic stop data release, telling 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "It's a promising first step. We have a ways to go before there is full faith and trust in our police department, but the willingness showed by Chief Axtell to be transparent gives me hope. We have to continue to analyze and collect data, but more importantly have to initiate actual change on how our communities of color are treated in Minnesota's Capital City by the police and every other agency that is supposed to serve them, not victimize them."

Credits

Katherine Johnson

Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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