Boston Police Stop-and-Frisk Blacks Far More Than Whites, Says ACLU Study

ROSLINDALE, MASSACHUSETTS -- 08/13/2012 -- A shooting early Sunday morning left one person dead at 784 Canterbury Street in Roslindale. As of Sunday morning police tape was still up and one patrol car was stationed at the scene. Brian Feulner for the Boston Globe
ROSLINDALE, MASSACHUSETTS -- 08/13/2012 -- A shooting early Sunday morning left one person dead at 784 Canterbury Street in Roslindale. As of Sunday morning police tape was still up and one patrol car was stationed at the scene. Brian Feulner for the Boston Globe –Boston Globe

The Boston Police Department stops and frisks far more African Americans than white people, according to a study published Wednesday by the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The study shows a racial bias in the department, the organization says.

Between 2007 and 2010, out of approximately 200,000 encounters that did not result in an arrest, 63 percent of people stopped and frisked by the BPD were African American. Only 24 percent of the city’s population is black.

Additionally, the study found, stop-and-frisk instances were most likely to occur in the minority-dense neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

“These findings are clear evidence of racial bias in BPD policing,’’ Matthew Segal, legal director of the Massachusetts ACLU, said in a statement. “This practice contradicts the principle of equal protection under the law, which is guaranteed by both the U.S. and Massachusetts Constitutions. We hope that we can work collaboratively with the BPD to address this problem.’’

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After the ACLU released its report, the BPD issued a statement that criticized many aspects of the ACLU’s research. The department claimed that the it does not practice “traditional stop and frisk,’’ but “field interrogation, observation, frisk and/or search.’’

Additionally, the BPD said, the ACLU used outdated data, that the people stopped in said outdated data were in high-crime areas, and that the study did not reflect changes taken since 2011 to refocus efforts on gang members and their associates.

Though the BPD found fault with much of the study, it did acknowledge that “black subjects are 8 percent more likely to be stopped repeatedly and 12 percent more likely to be frisked and searched.’’

’’The study did show some racial disparities that must be addressed,’’ the BPD said.

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