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Black people stopped and searched in Asheville more in 2017, report says

New data showed Asheville police stopping and searching more black people in the first eight months of 2017 compared to all of 2016. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

New data showed Asheville police stopping and searching more black people in the first eight months of 2017 compared to all of 2016.

According to Open Data Policing, a Durham-based social justice group, the percentage of black people stopped jumped 7 percent. The percentage of black people searched after being stopped jumped 9 percent.

Dee Williams, a community activist, said many of the areas with minority populations include public housing developments.

"One of the things that we're concerned with is using over-policing to solve systemic problems, like poverty, and that sort of thing, and the collateral consequences from some of these traffic stops," Williams said.

According to Open Data Policing, the percentage of black people pulled over in Asheville jumped from 17 percent to 24 percent percent in parts of 2017 compared to all of 2016. During the same time, the percentage of black people searched after being stopped jumped from 37 percent to 46 percent.

"That's not the issue that we're concerned with. The issue is the more encounters that are had with folks in these high-crime, minority neighborhoods the greater the chance that folks happen to get injured and die," Williams said.

Similar to Williams, Rondell Lance, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Asheville Lodge 1, said those traffic numbers account for a larger problem.

"[Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper] has said, 'this issue is more of an economic and social issue than a race issue,'" Lance said. "These areas are areas where, economically, people feel despair, people feel no hope, and, therefore, as we know, a lot of times, that causes high-crime areas."

News 13 reached out to Chief Hooper, but she was unavailable to speak.

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