Events overtook the planned agenda for our March 8 Community Night and we turned our attention to the horrendous video that was leaked to the Citizen-Times showing the beating of a black resident by a white police officer following a stop allegedly for jaywalking and trespassing. The aftermath of the leak has consumed our community ever since.
The meeting began with expressions of anger, but quickly turned to a discussion of how Code for Asheville might play a constructive role, converging on the theme of increasing transparency through the timely release of important policing data. As a recent post by the Police Data Initiative notes:
When data is open, community members are empowered to assess the data directly. Releasing open data is more than a gesture of goodwill and trust on behalf of law enforcement agencies; it is a shrewd use of resources and a means of enlisting communities to solve some of their most entrenched crime problems. As such, it is a key component in the co-production of public safety.
Records requests for use-of-force, emergency call, and other data have already been made through SunshineRequest.com, but to truly empower the community to hold the City of Asheville and the Asheville Police Department accountable and to work as partners with the City in identifying and implementing solutions, the information needs to be proactively released by the City on a regular basis.
Code for Asheville will submit a formal request for significant policing information to be added to the open data portal and City website, as well as a request that the City of Asheville join the Police Data Initiative, a network of cities working to use policing data to build trust between police and community and to address structural inequities in the way policing is done.
In support of this request, Code for Asheville has launched a petition on Change.org and will be gathering signatures online and offline. Please sign and share!