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Group raises concern over RPD’s record management system

Updated: Apr. 4, 2019 at 4:58 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Social justice group Richmond Transparency Accountability Project (RTAP) is pushing for a new record management system for Richmond police.

RTAP held a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Richmond Public Library discuss the Richmond Police Department (RPD) crime incident information center.

Dr. Liz Coston, a sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says trends RTAP found in the data are concerning.

“Use of force data, complaint data, data on traffic stops or data on field interviews... all of those show that black people in Richmond are stopped at disproportionately higher rates than white residents of Richmond and that’s really concerning to us,” said Coston.

RPD’s current record management system has not been revised in over a decade.

Now, a new record management system is being developed.

RPD has partnered with public safety service provider Soma Global to create an advanced records management platform for the city.

According to a press release from Soma Global, the SOMA Platform allows for deployment in the cloud, on premise or in a hybrid scenario.

The City of Richmond is planning a hybrid solution with multi-jurisdictional features spanning use across Richmond City Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Commonwealth University:

  • Search and share crime data from anywhere, in any browser
  • Fully integrated web maps to geographically visualize incidents
  • Multi-jurisdictional and advanced data sharing features for a complete operating picture
  • Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms for smart policing

However, Coston says they also have concerns about the new system.

“Soma Global markets themselves as being a provider of predictive policing technologies. They argue that those technologies reduce crime. We know from the implementation of those technologies from other communities that they disproportionately harm black and Hispanic communities,” said Coston.

It’s unknown when Richmond will start using the new system, but according to RPD, people can already track crime daily using a community crime map online.

The police department also posts crime data and internal affairs complaints on its own website for added transparency.

“We think as the Richmond transparency and accountability project, that members of our community should be policed fairly and equitably,” said Coston.

The group collected suggestions from people who attended the meeting. They plan to present those surveys to Mayor Levar Stoney and the police department before they start the new system.

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