How the Police Should Use Stop-and-Search Data

*NOTE: Originally published by The New York Times on December 1, 2014.

To the Editor:

Re “Wielding Search Data to Change Police Policy” (front page, Nov. 21):

Data on police stops can indeed provide a vital tool for ensuring fair and effective policing of minority communities, and not just in North Carolina. We’ve seen this in our international work on stop and search with European police services over the last decade.

In England and Wales, in particular, data-based evidence of discriminatory police stops is leading to shifts in police training, awareness and practice.

What we have found mirrors the findings reported in your article: Stop-and-search data needs to be collected, and it also needs to be interpreted and used properly by the police.

That requires a readiness by the police to engage with local community groups — the end result being safer communities, with often scarce police resources focused on genuine threats, not racial stereotypes.

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