The Fairfax County BoaA new publicly available database created by the Virginia State Police records data on traffic stops all over the Commonwealth.
The State Police’s Data Analysis and Reporting Team (DART) debuted a new section to its Open Data Portal which will collect and display information about traffic stops made by law enforcement agencies all over the state of Virginia.
“VSP opted to publicly post this information on behalf of all agencies required to collect to meet the legislative mandates given in § 15.2-1609.10 and § 15.2-1722.1. This effort allows for the public to see the data in one location and it eases the burden on agencies who do not have a website or means to update on a routine basis,” said Keon Turner, manager of the DART.
The sections of the Virginia State Code mentioned by Turner are those regarding the Prohibited Practices and Data Collection which was recently updated by the General Assembly through the Community Policing Act of 2020 which became effective this month. The act mandates that information of traffic stops be collected from participating law enforcement agencies and be displayed for public viewing.
Of the 366 agencies that operate within the Commonwealth only nine agencies won’t participate due to these agencies not making traffic stops or those that make very few such stops. These would include small municipalities and localities that don’t make traffic stops and leave that job to the VSP.
The data that is currently available on the site was collected between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 and will contain information on all non-voluntary stops.
The site allows those interested to research stop statistics anywhere in the state. As an example, a quick perusal of the site shows that Fairfax County has the most citations and traffic stops in the state with a total of 17,483. Other information that can be found on the site are demographic data recording the age, gender, race, and ethnicity of those that have been in a traffic stop.
According to the section of the website regarding reporting and analysis, all data on the site is subject to review and updated on a quarterly basis. This review will address missing data, correct reporting errors, and post new data submitted by participating law enforcement agencies.
The site also has a host of data on other subjects such as Coronavirus cases, active warrants, arrest reports, and other data of interest.
The Community Policing Act which mandated the creation of the site added requirements for data collection by law enforcement officers based on observation or information given by drivers who have been stopped. Before the additions, officers would have to report the race, ethnicity, age, and gender of the person stopped. The officers would also have to report the reason for the stop, its location, and whether a warning, written citation, or summons was issued or whether any person was arrested.
The report also has to disclose if a warning, written citation, or summons was issued or an arrest was made, the warning provided, violation charged, or crime charged. It must also disclose whether the vehicle or any person was searched.
The new updates made by the Community Policing Act must now disclose if the person who was stopped spoke English and whether the law-enforcement officer or State Police officer used physical force against any person and whether any person used physical force against any officers.
Those additions went into effect July 1.