For the first time, records of millions of traffic stops by the New Jersey State Police will be publicly available.
The public can now access data on 6 million traffic stops dating back to 2009 until the end of 2020. According to NJ.com, the database launch represents the first time such data has been looked at since the federal government stopped monitoring the agency for racial profiling over a decade ago.
The New Jersey State Police Traffic Stop Dashboard website records the reason for the traffic stop, the driver’s race, if physical force was used and if any criminal charges were given, while keeping individuals involved anonymous.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement that the website will promote greater transparency between law enforcement and the community.
“The New Jersey State Police Traffic Stop Dashboard is another powerful tool to promote transparency and accountability in policing. It presents more than a decade of data in a format that will facilitate analysis and encourage public dialogue about this critical area,” he said.
The move was one of Grewal’s last as the state’s AG before he takes a job with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The State Police were accused of racial profiling back in 1998 when troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike shot into a van with four unarmed minority men, injuring three. The U.S. Department of Justice stepped in to force changes in training and supervision.
The data in the dashboard is difficult to make sense of, according to NJ.com, because the last survey estimating the total number of Black people on the road more than 20 years old.
The traffic stop data shows that troops pulled over 86,920 Black drivers last year, a little more than a fifth of the 398,000-plus total.
Data from last year showed that Black or Hispanic drivers were more likely than White people to face interactions like frisks, vehicle searches or arrests after being stopped.
Officials from the Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards plan to update the data twice a year and encourage residents to fill in online forms and give their feedback on the site.
Director of the Professional Standards Office Christina Glogoff said, “With this new public dashboard, we invite citizens, advocates, and reporters to examine State Police traffic stop data themselves and perhaps contribute to a public conversation about best practices.”
The head of the State Police, Col. Patrick Callahan, said the agency is currently using the data to improve training.
“We welcome the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue about how we conduct traffic stops,” Callahan said.
While some states offer similar information – the Texas Department of Public Safety’s annual traffic stop reports and the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project’s data analysis for example – policing experts at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said none were as detailed as New Jersey’s.