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June 10, 2019

Today, the ACLU of Virginia sent a letter to Richmond City Mayor Levar Stoney and all members of Richmond City Council in support of the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project's call for more police transparency and accountability. "Our Constitution promises all people, regardless of race, equal protection under the law," stated the letter. "Yet, the Richmond Police Department and police departments all across Virginia have historically engaged in patterns of racial profiling. In Richmond, even though black residents make up 49% of the population, 65% of the people documented in 2017 and 2018 police reports were listed as black. Additionally, a black person is more than twice as likely to be stopped and documented by the Richmond Police than a white person.

"Racial profiling is a discriminatory and unconstitutional practice. Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies and appropriate allocation of resources in law enforcement can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters with police officers."

For those reasons, we asked that the City:

  1. Prioritize community input in order to capture and share more robust and higher quality data.
  2. Ban predictive policing.
  3. Establish civilian oversight.

The ACLU of Virginia believes we can build a police system that encourages and respects each individual, welcomes community involvement and serves every neighborhood.

In addition, we ask and recommend that the Richmond Police Department and the City Council actively support legislation allowing a police officer to be decertified for serious misconduct (not just criminal convictions), enact policies ending policing of low-level offenses, and enact policies requiring that the public receive notice and an opportunity for input before RPD is authorized by the City Council to purchase or deploy surveillance technology of any kind, including, but not limited to, body cameras, license plate readers, red light cameras, drones, or cell site simulators.

We also urge Richmond City Council to hold a public hearing on Richmond Police Department’s new records management system, including its potential for biased “predictive policing,” that it chose to fund in the budget. We hope to work with the Richmond City Council to make this a reality for their residents.

You can read the full letter here.