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Boston to track all stops by police

By Francie Latour, Globe Staff, and Bill Dedman, Globe Correspondent, 7/20/2003

    On city boulevards and rural lanes, whites and women are far more likely to receive written warnings instead of tickets when stopped for identical traffic offenses, according to a Boston Globe study of newly released state records.

 FOLLOW-UPS

8/8/2004
Police plan public meeting

5/9/2004
Chiefs deny racial profiling

5/6/2004
Civil rights advocates laud plan

5/5/2004
Police chiefs decry study

5/4/2004
Racial profiling is confirmed
Northeastern study [PDF]
Report summary
Who got a passing grade?
Police response [MS Word]

2/16/2004
Police flouting 'no fix' law on tickets

1/21/2004
Profiling study cites dozens of locales Charts
Northeastern study [PDF]

1/20/2004
Reilly starts push to end profiling in police stops

1/17/2004
Boston police to get tough on tickets

9/19/2003
Judge: Suspect must stay in jail

9/18/2003
Seeing bias, evidence tossed

8/5/2003
Deeper look at profiling

7/24/2003
Funding urged for study

5/24/2003
Ticketing cited despite curbs

3/5/2003
Romney backs profile tracking
People asked to join task force

1/25/2003
Chief: Glitch caused error

1/8/2003
Task force to review data


 THE SERIES

Day 1:
Race, sex, and age drive ticketing
Minority officers are stricter on minorities
Boston to track all stops by police

Graphics:
Who gets fined for speeding
Minority officers
Most-favored status
One officer's week

Town-by-town:
Ticketing whites vs. minorities
Large departments | All

Ticketing women vs. men
Large departments | All


Day 2:
Punishment varies by town and officer

Graphics:
How tickets raise insurance
Ranking the departments
Littering is worse?

Town-by-town:
Toughest on speeders
Large departments | All
Locals vs. out-of-towners
Large departments | All


Day 3:
Troopers fair, tough in traffic encounters

Graphics:
Frequent ticketers
How fast can you go?


Editorial: Tickets to fix
Op-Ed: Looking deeper
Op-Ed: Study proves nothing
Profiles in prejudice

 ONLINE EXTRAS

Q & A
Secretary of Public Safety Edward A. Flynn, the senior law enforcement official in Massachusetts, spoke with the Globe about this series. Q & A

Detailed report
A closer look at how the Globe analyzed hundreds of thousands of traffic tickets.
Download study
This .PDF document requires Adobe Acrobat

Online chat
Globe reporter Bill Dedman chatted with Boston.com readers about this series.
Read full transcript

 EARLIER REPORTS

In January, the Globe published the first results of its analysis.

Part 1:
Citations reveal disparity
Totals key to computations

Graphics:
Tracking tickets
Searches by race and age

Charts:
Searching minorities more often
Ticketing their own


Part 2:
Police not pressed on race
Tewksbury cop is tops
Fridays worst for tickets
Scope of monitoring reduced

Graphics:
Where race was not recorded

Charts:
Failing to record the race
Searching more cars

Faced with department statistics showing that Boston police officers tend to warn more whites than minorities for the same traffic offenses, the department has decided to collect information on every interaction between police and citizens as a further safeguard against possible racial, or gender, profiling.

Later this year the department will become the first in the state to track race and gender information for every citizen encounter, whether on the street or during a traffic stop. The information will be collected on a revised version of a departmental form called the field interrogation or observation report.

As part of the state's racial profiling law, approved in 2000, the state has been collecting information on traffic stops from every police department in Massachusetts - but only when those stops lead to a ticket or a written warning.

Some police chiefs lobbied against documenting all traffic stops, saying the paperwork burden on officers would be too great. But police officials in Boston said they never opposed the measure, and the department's new tracking system will put it on a par with cities such as Miami and Los Angeles that already collect such information. The so-called FIO reports have always recorded race information, and are mostly used to gather intelligence on gang members and other criminal activity.

The new written reports, which Commissioner Paul F. Evans described in a June meeting with civil rights and minority leaders, will document the race and gender of every citizen who is searched, frisked, questioned, or observed on suspicion by a Boston officer. The information will be entered into a database so supervisors can closely track patterns in how officers conduct stops during patrols.

The department's spokeswoman, Mariellen Burns, said supervisors will undergo training on the new forms in the next month, but she did not know when officers will start using them.

In a letter inviting community leaders to the June meeting, Evans said the possibility of bias among his officers raises ``a profound concern to the Department.'' At the meeting, participants said, Evans acknowledged problems with racial disparities in traffic stops.

A Boston Globe analysis of state records found that, in almost every neighborhood in the city, whites were far more likely than minorities to receive written warnings instead of tickets when they committed identical traffic offenses. Boston police also were more lenient on women offenders than men.

The Boston Police Department's own findings echo the Globe's review. The department found that 46 percent of whites received a ticket when cited for a traffic violation. Meanwhile, 51 percent of Middle Easterners were ticketed; 60 percent of blacks; 61 percent of Latinos, and 63 percent of Asians.

The racial disparities were most pronounced in South Boston, where 26 percent of whites were ticketed, compared with 45 percent of minorities. Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, and the South End/Downtown area also showed significant disparities.

The city's numbers are based on 23,599 citations written by Boston officers in April and May 2001. The figures are not broken down by gender, and do not take into account the type of traffic violation. Criminal offenses were excluded.

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