In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.

Boston Police, ACLU Clash Over Stop-and-Frisk Study

ACLU of Massachusetts accuses Boston Police of taking part in "widespread racial bias," but police say ACLU has wrong facts

Boston Police target black people and black communities much more than white people and white communities, according to a new release by the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union.

"There's a huge disparity there just in the very raw numbers," Carl Williams, an attorney for the ACLU, said.

Specifically, the ACLU says between 2007-2010, blacks were subjected to 63 percent of police to civilian encounters, even though they make up just 24 percent of Boston's population.


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"I do feel targeted," one male Boston resident said.

Another Boston resident said she doesn't "notice anything," when it comes to racial disparity.

Boston Police tell NECN they initiated an independent study four years ago to learn more about police interrogations on the streets, and included the ACLU from the beginning.

They say the findings show the department is focused on the areas most responsible for violent crime. They also admit that while the study did find racial disparities, they were unable to determine what caused them and say they are committed to reducing all disparities.

A statement from Sgt. Mike McCarthy of the BPD reads in part:

"The Department believed the ACLU shared this philosophy, however, their actions over the past 24 hours have shocked and surprised the Department. When asked last evening to participate in a joint announcement today to inform the public of the preliminary findings, the ACLU replied that it was not prepared to announce any findings."

Now Boston Police say they're questioning the ACLU's motives.

Still, the ACLU says the department police streets with widespread racial bias.

"This is concerning because this seems to go against what the 14th amendment says," Williams said.

Boston Police say their final report wasn't complete. When it is, they'll get an outside consultant to ensure officers are taking all the right steps.

The ACLU says they would like all Boston Police officers that interact with the public to wear cameras, among other changes.  

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