On May 22, City Council voted to direct [interim] City Manager Cathy Ball to begin working with Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper on instituting written consent to search, whether it be a person’s vehicle or a person’s self or their backpack when probable cause otherwise does not exist. Thank you Brian Haynes, Julie Mayfield, Esther Manheimer, Sheneika Smith and, of course, Keith Young, who proposed the motion. You have given this issue plentiful review and have stood up for a just Asheville!
Racial discrepancies in traffic stops have roused many in our community to stand up and speak out — and for good reason. From January through the end of March this year, there have been 52 searches of black drivers compared to just 46 for white drivers. But the rate at which contraband is found is 43 percent for white drivers and just 33 percent for black drivers.
Back in November of 2016, the Criminal Justice Committee of the NAACP and Code for Asheville noticed these alarming trends and took action. During the course of the year and a half of committed and collaborative community efforts, including contributions from BeLoved House and others, spanning one CPAC meeting, three Public Safety Committee meetings and two prior City Council meetings, the data had gotten progressively worse, where just last year, the contraband hit rate was even 40 percent for white drivers and 39 percent for black drivers. Check [http://avl.mx/50g] for more.
So on May 22, five council members voted to finally institute this policy, and it is my hope that Councilman Vijay Kapoor and organizations such as the Police Benevolent Association can come to see this vote as the culmination of a year and a half of dedicated community engagement that has been built around data and has finally seen the light of day. Thank you, Justice Council!
— Matilda Bliss