Greenville police partners with ECU to track bias-based policing

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Greenville police Chief Mark Holtzman hopes a new collaboration with East Carolina University will shine a light on the department and stop any negative actions before it starts.

Holtzman stood in front of the Greenville City Council Thursday night to get their stamp of approval for his new bias-based policing report.

“Our police department has over 80,000 citizen contacts,” said Holtzman. “Eighty thousand citizen contacts every year, and we have only a handful of race-related complaints that come through.”

That’s why he wants to look deeper into their policing and policies regarding race-infused encounters.

“A lot of people think it’s a very quick comparison, but there is a lot that goes into one of these things, so we want to bring in some experts to help us out with this and add a level of expertise that we don’t have,” Holtzman said.

That’s where ECU criminal justice professors Michele Stacey and Heidi Bonner come in.

“One of our primary jobs will be to help the department choose the appropriate benchmarks,” said Bonner. “Things that we can use to compare the data they have to see if there is any concern.”

Bonner said while the report is still in its beginning stages, it is rewarding to be a part of an important study.

“The department does understand that there is problems in other areas and, again, they are really looking to be proactive about addressing them before they might occur,” said Bonner.

Holztman said it is only the beginning.

The first year of reporting will serve as a template, and each year they will make minor adjustments to build on.

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