A nonprofit civil rights organization, with support from the White House, launches a website today that will contain up-to-date information about nearly 20 million traffic stops made by every police department and every police officer in North Carolina over the past 15 years, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice will launch OpenDataPolicingNC.com. The website, the first of its kind in the U.S., relies on public records on police traffic stops, vehicle searches and use of force, broken down by race and ethnicity, since 2000.
The new website is part of a larger revolution in government transparency, said UNC-Chapel Hill political science Prof. Frank Baumgartner. Where someone used to have to comb through onerous paper files, he said, the Internet offers immediate access to data that will make government more accountable. The website is a realization of a recommendation in May by President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “embrace a culture of transparency” by publishing information about traffic stops “aggregated by demographics.” The initiative follows fatal encounters between police and African-American men across the nation and a report by Baumgartner that indicated blacks are more likely than whites in North Carolina to be stopped and searched by police.