Local police have this deal called ‘bias-based’ reporting. What exactly is that?

(Southside Daily file)
(Southside Daily file)

Both the Norfolk and Virginia Beach police departments’ Internal Affairs Units compile annual reports where they track “citizen complaints,” including bias-based policing.

Virginia Beach Police define biased-based profiling or policing as interactions with a resident based on race, ethnicity, color, religion, age, sex, etc.

A Norfolk Police representative was not immediately available to define bias-based policing on their end.

To keep track of those kinds interactions, the police departments have their Internal Affairs Units compile annual reports.

The annual reports take a look at the number of “citizen complaints,” the type of claim made and then the course of action by the police department.

Virginia Beach Police

Virginia Beach Police provided Southside Daily with their annual Biased-Based Profiling Reviews from 2016 to 2018 compiled by their Office of Internal Affairs.

Departmental code dictates “whenever a person complains that an officer has engaged in bias-based profiling, the officer will immediately notify the shift supervisor.”

The code goes on to say “the citizen should be advised of procedure and a request made to the citizen to remain at the scene until a supervisor arrives.”

Those interactions are then recorded and investigated by Internal Affairs.

No officer names are recorded in the descriptions of each complaint, only race and gender of the officers and complainants.

In 2016, a review of all “citizen complaints,” internal investigations, information cases and inquires identified 14 cases that had an allegation of bias of any type mentioned, according to documentation provided by the VBPD.

No cases in 2016 were found to have any evidence of racial profiling or bias-based policing.

That’s two less than 2015 where 16 cases were identified and a 12 percent reduction in complaints of that kind, according to the report.

In 2017 there were 12 cases defined as bias-based policing — one case was investigated which involved a social media post, bringing the total to 13 cases.

Only one of the 13 cases investigated was sent to mediation.

That resulted in the particular officer being counseled by the command and removed from his position as homicide detective to be placed in another position.

The final review provided was from 2018, 14 cases were reported in all.

There was no evidence in any of the complaints of racial profiling or bias-based policing, according to the documents provided.

The Virginia Beach Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on how this form of policing has impacted their community relations.

Norfolk Police

The NPD’s Office of Professional Standards – Internal Affairs Unit is charged with the receipt, processing and investigation of claims of misconduct made against sworn or civilian members of the department, according to documentation from the NPD’s website.

The unit compiles a yearly report available on their website.

The report does not include a summary of each incident but instead sums up the number of complaints and how many of those complaints were substantiated.

Norfolk Police also record the race and gender of the “citizen complaints” as well as a host of other information about the racial make-up of the city.

Here are the reports from 2016-2018.

In 2016 there were 143 “citizen complaints” recorded by the unit, of those complaints 18 were substantiated.

There were 18 bias-based policing claims that year of the 143 “citizen complaints.”

In 2017 there were 119 “citizen complaints” recorded and 23 of those complaints were substantiated.

There were 11 bias-based policing claims within those 119.

In 2018 there were 120 “citizen complaints” recorded and 14 of those complaints were substantiated.

There were 16 claims of bias-based policing among the 120 complaints.

It’s unclear whether the claims of bias-based policing were substantiated in the reports.

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