District 4 City Councillor Andrea Campbell this week slammed the Boston Police Department and Mayor Walsh for what she termed a “failure” to provide data on Field Interrogation and Observation (FOI) data from 2017 to 2020.
On Monday, Campbell filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that pushes the city to release the information. She cited a section of the city charter that she says gives the council legal authority to compel the release of documents that are in the public interest.
“Stop-and-frisk policing has been proven to be racially biased against people of color,” said Campbell in a statement. “How is it that here, in the city that will host the national NAACP convention in a matter of months, the administration can’t tell us how many residents have been stopped and frisked by police over the past three years despite their commitment to do so?”
In 2015 the Walsh administration pledged to record and monitor these incidents and make the data public on an annual basis, yet the city has not published any new data since 2016.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mayor Walsh said in a statement: “The intent has always been for the Boston Police Department to make this information available to the public as soon as possible.”
Campbell responded: “The city needs to release this data immediately. By keeping residents in the dark about what’s happening on our streets, the administration is failing to build trust with communities that it desperately needs to.”
Stop-and-frisk tactics have a history of disproportionately impacting communities of color, Campbell pointed out, noting a July 2015 report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts. The report, which assessed the first round of data released by the BPD, found that “the Boston Police Department has engaged in racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices that have disproportionately targeted Black and Latino communities.”
It concluded: “Racial disparities in the BPD’s stops-and-frisks could not be explained by crime or other non-race factors. Blacks during that period were the subjects of 63.3 percent of police-civilian encounters, although less than a quarter of the city’s population is black.”