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Committee tasked with addressing disparities in traffic stops elects chair

The Columbia committee tasked with addressing disparities in Columbia’s vehicle stop rates selected a chair at its meeting Tuesday night.

Toni Dukes was elected chair after two people declined being nominated to the position.

One of the main concerns addressed in the group’s first meeting in February was the group’s own lack of racial diversity. Tuesday night’s meeting drew a larger and more racially diverse crowd than the previous meeting.

“It’s really exciting to see all of these people volunteer their time knowing that we’re going to have difficult, challenging and authentic conversations,” Interim Police Chief Geoff Jones said.

When asked if he would attend all of the meetings, Jones said he will attend future meetings if needed.

According to the city’s website, the committee plans to address disparities in six ways:

Examining data Identifitying variables affecting an officer’s decision to stop a vehicle Finding methods or processes to fill data gaps Setting a timeline for research Identifying policing training/best practices that should be reviewed for changes Making recommendations to the interim police chief.

The 2017 report for the Columbia Police Department indicated “a projected disparity index of 3.28 for African American drivers.” That was an increase from 2016, when it was 3.13.

The 2018 data is not yet available.

The next meeting is scheduled to be held May 14 at Columbia City Hall at 5:30 p.m.

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