Hopewell Township police: White motorists accounted for 80% of traffic stops in 2020, police rarely use force

ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

Hopewell Township Police Director Robert Karmazin recently presented a snapshot of 2020 data regarding traffic stops and use of force.

The police department serves not only the Hopewell Township community, but also Hopewell Borough through a shared services agreement.

The presentation was the first part of a two-part presentation, which spotlighted police department statistics, programs and accomplishments.

“Our use of force data indicates that we use it very infrequently. Everything we have been reporting as we go along is not necessarily being reported by other police departments locally and most likely in the state,” Mayor Julie Blake said.

Karmazin will return before the township committee on Jan. 25 to present part two, which is designed to speak to the strategic goals of the department in enhancing community policing, while also introducing proposed programs and community engagements.

“We are talking about a long-term commitment to transparency and engagement regarding community policing,” Blake said.

In the first presentation that highlighted 2020 statistics, Karmazin presented data that had been compiled by the department and an outside police consultant hired by the township committee.

During 2020, Hopewell Township police officers conducted a total of 5,493 traffic stops.

Karmazin’s presentation presented a breakdown of the stops by race. White motorists represented 80% (4,421) of the traffic stops, Black motorists accounted for 15% (836), Asian/Pacific Islander were 4% (223), American Indian represented 1% (8) and unknown accounted for 1% (5).

Pivoting to the use of force data, Hopewell Township police reported 10 use of force incidents for 2020. Out of the 10 subjects involved, two had been injured or transported for medical attention. Karmazin stated in his presentation that the two injured or transported were not specifically involved with use of force being brought upon those individuals.

The force level ranged from compliance holds to hands/fists. The compliance holds were the main force level utilized with 17 total for incidents in 2020, according to the presentation.

“We have the highest standards even if it is just handcuffing somebody. You can just have your hand on someone and that can be considered use of force,” Blake said. “Having 17 listed there is pretty low.”

There are various ways to do a compliance hold.

“It can actually be just bringing someone’s arm back and moving them and giving them direction. It can go ahead and stop their movement or activity if they are not complying to you,” Karmazin said in his presentation. “It is all considered non-lethal force.”

In addition to the holds, hands/fists were reported once, Karmazin described the incident as not actually having involved a hand or fist but instead was the grabbing of one’s hand for compliance. Additionally, the only other force level used in 2020 was “other,” which was indicated during the presentation as an individual who fell to the ground prior to being arrested.

“We have Bob Karmazin coming back on Jan. 25 and I asked him last year to present two presentations – one of where we are now in terms of policing and followed by what are the proposals in front of us and how to implement them,” Blake said. “Obviously this is not addressing anything that is in litigation that had been concerning to the residents at large. That we cannot address publicly, but it does not mean it is not there.”