Washington, D.C., police officers stopped black and Hispanic pedestrians in two neighborhoods frequented by tourists, Georgetown and Adams Morgan, at higher rates than others on the street, says a study for the police department reported by the Washington Post and WTTG-TV. The review was the department’s most ambitious examination yet of racial and ethnic profiling. It found that police appear to be targeting blacks in the neighborhoods that feature some of the city’s major commercial and tourist magnets.
An outside consultant reviewed data covering traffic and pedestrian stops from February 2005 through January 2006 at 25 intersections across the city. The police stops were made for panhandling, jaywalking, suspicious behavior, attempted car theft and “anything a police officer could stop a pedestrian for,” said John C. Lamberth of West Chester, Pa., author of the study. The study flagged no problems at 23 locations and no concerns about traffic stops. It raised questions about pedestrian stops at two intersections. Acting Police Chief Cathy Lanier was pleased with the 23 places that showed no racial bias but was concerned with the other two. “I don’t want there to be a higher ratio anywhere,” she said. “We’re going to take steps to deal with it.”