NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone talked with demonstrators Tuesday, the day after they set up camp outside city hall to demand 'full transparency' when it comes to use of force by the police department.
The protesters set up tents on the grass around the building and used chalk to write messages on the pavement. They also used it to draw pictures of people across the country who died at the hands of police, including Elijah McClain and Breonna Taylor.
The demonstrators want the Norfolk Police Department to release its use of force reports for the past decade.
"Making sure these records are public knowledge is just the first step in the one thousand mile journey," protester Derek Avery said.
Currently, the department doesn't release a lot of details about situations in which officers use force, which could involve stunning, beating, or shooting people. There also is no way for the average person to find out if methods that have been used vary by location in the city or by the race of the people who are involved.
Many activists have said that making the information available would increase accountability and that if the police department has nothing to hide, it makes sense to be transparent about the information.
Police Chief Larry Boone said he would be open to releasing the records.
"I have no problem providing that information, I welcome it and think it's necessary," Boone stated. "Whether it’s this community over here, this community over here, black, white, male or female, let’s dive in and see what the information says.”
Boone says the majority of use of force reports are tame. According to NPD data from 2018, more than 90 percent of police 'use of force' cases did not involve a weapon.
"Use of force could be positioning someone by their shoulders, or simply pointing your taser at someone," Boone said. "I know you guys think there's a whole lot of clubs to head, punches to face, kicks to stomach - there isn't a whole lot of that going on, it's just not."
Norfolk leaders said they're now looking to publish more detailed use of force information. City Manager Chip Filer has started talking to a company that could create a dashboard to share use of force data online. That would include information such as areas of incidents or, potentially, the race of people involved in them.
When it comes to the release of individual reports or case information, city spokeswoman Lori Crouch said Norfolk doesn't do that now, and it won't do it in the future. She cited discretionary exemptions that are provided within Virginia's open records laws.
Activists said they're demonstrating to set a precedent for the future.
“This is my future, a lot of the people in office won’t be alive when I’m older so I’m currently building the future for myself, and for the people around me I love and care for," protester Windsor Rachel said. "So this is important and should be important to everybody.”