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Boston police release new data on FIO stops

By Globe Staff 

Boston police observed, interrogated, or searched black residents more than whites between 2011 and 2014, but the percentage of blacks who were targeted decreased from prior years, according to data released on Friday.

The data from two studies by the Police Department show a reduced investigative focus on black residents between 2011 to 2014, when they made up 58.5 percent of people targeted, compared with 63.3 percent from 2007 to 2010. About 24 percent of city residents are black.

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Boston police said Friday that like the earlier study, the raw numbers from 2011 to 2014 do not include “contextual information such as neighborhoods, crime hot spot locations, or offending populations.”

Both studies analyzed reports of “Field Interrogation/Observation/Frisk and/or Search” incidents, or FIOs. The reports include a range of encounters, from an officer driving past a person and noting his or her location and activities, to an officer stopping and questioning a person, to an officer frisking or searching an individual.

Police Commissioner William B. Evans said in a statement that in releasing the data, he is “committed to being as transparent as possible while protecting the privacy of those we encounter.”

Police on Friday released data for 149,545 FIOs conducted between 2011 and April 2015. Officials provided percentage breakdowns for 2011 through 2014. During that period, 58.5 percent of all FIO subjects were black, 22.8 percent white, and 13.1 percent Hispanic.

Just over 74 percent of FIO subjects had “prior records reported by the officers.”

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The earlier study, which police released in October 2014, looked at 204,739 FIO reports from 2007 to 2010. During that period, blacks made up 63.3 percent of FIO subjects.

The initial study found the biggest predictors for whether a person of any race would be stopped repeatedly were gang affiliation and criminal history.

But after controlling for issues like criminal history, blacks were 8.8 percent more likely than whites to be stopped repeatedly and 12 percent more likely than whites to be frisked or searched.

Attempts to reach the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Boston branch of the NAACP for comment were unsuccessful.


Evan Allen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.