Rate of Police Stopping Minorities Still High in Boston

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The rate at which minorities are subjected to stops, searches and frisks by police doesn’t appear to be improving in Boston in the year since the department said it was narrowing racial disparities in policing tactics, the Associated Press reports. At least 71 percent of all street level, police-civilian encounters from 2015 through early 2016 involved persons of color, while whites comprised about 22 percent, a review of the most recently available data shows. That’s only a slight decline from the 73 percent that minorities comprised in such street-level encounters between 2011 and early 2015. It’s also higher than the 63 percent that blacks comprised between 2007 and 2010.

The gap between minorities and whites in the most recent reporting period is likely higher. Over 7 percent of all police-civilian encounters compiled in the department’s 2015 to 2016 “Field Interrogation, Observation, Frisk and/or Search” reports don’t list the civilian’s race at all. Civil rights activists have complained for years that blacks comprise a majority of these kinds of police interactions in Boston, despite accounting for about 25 percent of the population. The disparity affects how some residents in largely minority communities perceive police, said Carl Williams, of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “People feel uncomfortable talking with police when they feel they’re getting stopped unjustly,” he said. New York City data shows at least 83 percent of stops through the first three quarters of 2016 involved blacks or other minorities. From 2011 to 2014, they averaged roughly 84 percent of stops. Philadelphia police said minorities accounted for 77 percent of stops in the first half of 2015.

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