DRUHAM, N.C. (WNCN)–Traffic stops are part of the Durham Police Department’s strategy to reduce violent crime. It’s one of the jobs of the department’s Crime Area Target Team (CATT). The team was formed earlier this year to patrol areas with high rates of violent crime.

Durham City Council Member Jillian Johnson said most of the team’s activity is in communities of color.

“I was concerned about those enforcement activities leading to greater racial disparities in things like traffic stops,” Johnson said.

She requested a breakdown of the team’s traffic stops, which the City Council received in Monday’s meeting packet as a follow-up to the police department’s 3rd quarter crime presentation. 

Johnson is concerned the stops are leading to what she said are unnecessary interactions with law enforcement.

“I think the data’s concerning, it shows that 80% of stops were for regulatory or equipment violations, and so those I really feel should be the lowest priority for our police department,” Johnson said. “They have either very low or no safety implications.”

Out of the 1,390 traffic stops the team conducted in five months, 700 of them were for a vehicle equipment violation and 438 were for a vehicle regulatory violation, according to the Durham Police Department.

“They’re not being stopped because they have a busted taillight, they’re being stopped because they happen to be driving in this particular area, and they’re more likely to be driving in that area if they’re Black or Latino because these are happening more in Black and latino neighborhoods,” Johnson said.

Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews said officers for the team are hand-picked and the department oversees that officers act based on how they’re trained and not on bias.

Two weeks ago during the third quarter crime presentation, Andrews said the team’s officers conduct stops because guns are getting from place to place, with data showing the same gun being used in multiple crimes across the city.

Safe movement violation was the third most common reason for a stop at 86, followed by 67 investigation stops, and 37 speed limit violations.

“For example, we’ve been trying to stop some of the dirt bikes, right, if theyre driving in such a way that they’re making it unsafe for the general public they’re going to be stopped,” Andrews said in regard to CATT’s efforts.

Andrews said CATT’s tasks also include identifying quality of life concerns and talking to community members outside of law enforcement actions. 

Johnson said she wants to continue conversations with the police department to be able to have police effectively do their work while not increasing harm to communities of color who she said already suffer from law enforcement practices.

CBS 17 has reached out to the Durham Police Department for its response to Johnson’s concerns and is waiting to hear back.