The Boston Police Department has a pattern of racial profiling in stop-and-frisk incidents, claims a new report from the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter that highlights a Jamaica Plain resident’s experiences.
Ivan Richiez, a longtime resident of JP’s South Street Apartments, appears on the front page of the report, titled, “Black, Brown and Targeted.”
The report reviewed more than 200,000 stop-and-frisk incidents, where police question and examine people on the street, in 2007-2010. Among the report’s findings are that 63.3 percent of stop-and-frisks were conducted on black people, who make up less than 25 percent of Boston’s population.
In the report, Richiez says that he experienced his first stop-and-frisk at 14. He described his treatment as “rough, abusive and lacking any respect.”
He said he has been stopped and frisked “many times … thirty to forty times. Maybe fifty.” When he was robbed at gunpoint in JP in 2011, he says, he did not report it to the police.
“What would [the police] have done for me? I don’t trust them after the way they have treated me and my people for so many years,” he said in the report.
A Gazette request for comment from BPD was not returned. A Gazette request sent to ACLU of Massachusetts to interview Richiez was not returned.
None of the 200,000-plus incidents reviewed by the ACLU resulted in an arrest. Due to the way BPD categorizes reports, any stop-and-frisk that results in an arrest is classified by the alleged crime, not by the original stop.
Of those stop-and-frisks, only 2.5 percent led to the seizure of alleged contraband.
The report also states that in three out of four encounters studied—roughly 150,000—the officer listed “investigate person” as the sole reason for targeting someone. The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, however, requires individualized, reasonable suspicion to conduct any stop or frisk, the ACLU says.
While the report expresses concerns about stop-and-frisks on Latinos—including Richiez—as well as black people, it notes that statistics are hard to find because BPD has no “Latino” identification in its reports. The only ethnic and racial classifications are American Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic and white.
“These limited categories fail to capture the complexity of the Latino community, where often racial and ethnic categories are not mutually exclusive,” the report says. “Officers may incorrectly report a Latino to be ‘white.’ And like Ivan, some people in Boston’s Latino communities identify by both their race and ethnicity.”
The reports on black people subjected to stop-and-frisks show a large racial disparity. Even after adjusting the results for crime rates, Boston police officers were more likely to stop-and-frisk black people in majority-black neighborhoods, the report says.
“This racial disparity cannot be explained away by BPD efforts to target crime,” the report says. “The researchers’ preliminary statistical analysis found that the racial composition of Boston neighborhoods drove police-civilian encounters, even after controlling for crime rates and other factors.”
Among the reforms suggested by the ACLU are requiring officers to wear video cameras; providing receipts to anyone stopped or frisked to demonstrate the incident happened; and published detailed data on all police-civilian encounters.
The ACLU also says BPD should “adopt a bias-free policing policy that addresses obstacles to race-neutral policing” and train officers in it.
The full report is available at aclum.org/stopandfrisk.