New Report Finds While Police Street Stops Are Down, Minorities Are Still Stopped at Higher Rates

© Jim Young/Reuters A Chicago police officer attends a news conference, Sept. 21, 2016, in Chicago.A

Despite a dramatic drop in the number of street stops by Chicago police in the first half of 2016, officers continued to disproportionately stop African-Americans, according to a new report.

The report found that nearly 71 percent of stops were of African-Americans, though they make up only about a third of Chicago’s residents.

Those findings — released by city officials Friday afternoon — came in the first of a series of reports on the Chicago Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices commissioned as part of a 2015 agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

The ACLU of Illinois had alleged that officers’ stops were too frequent and unfairly targeted minorities, and retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys is tasked with reviewing the practice.

For years, Chicago police had performed hundreds of thousands of street stops of people they deemed suspicious, questioning them and sometimes patting them down. Police also filled out so-called contact cards with limited information, preventing the public from determining whether the stops were legal, the ACLU of Illinois alleged.

Since Jan. 1, 2016, officers have been filling out more detailed investigatory stop reports. The reports also require officers to write a more complete narrative justifying why they made the stop.

Out of 54,116 stops made by officers from Jan. 1- June 30, 2016, nearly 71 percent were of African-Americans, according to Keys’ 216-page report. About 21 percent of the stops were of Hispanics and about 8 percent were of whites. (There were an additional 585 stops of other races not detailed in the report.)

The overall number of stops during the first six months of 2016 represents a dramatic dip from 2014 and 2015, when officers stopped several hundred thousand people per year. The racial breakdown of people stopped changed little between those years and 2016.

Blacks also comprised about 73 percent of the 18,364 people patted down by officers during those stops in 2016. Pat-downs were performed about 22 percent of the time on Hispanics and about 5 percent of the time on whites, the report stated.

Karen Sheley, a staff attorney for the ACLU, said the new data offers a fuller picture of racial disparities in street stops, but she was encouraged by the overall drop in stops.

“We see this as a work in progress,” she said.

The city, in a press release, said the report exemplified officials’ “dedication” to departmental improvements.

“The report documents the city’s dedication to fully adopting the new policies and procedures,” said city Corporation Counsel Edward Siskel in the statement. “We look forward to working with the ACLU and Judge Keys as the city makes continual improvements.”

In the past, police have taken issue with the ACLU’s criticism of police for stopping African-Americans disproportionately. Officers have told the Tribune that street stops are based on crime patterns in certain neighborhoods that are heavily black and plagued by violence.

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Source: Chicago Tribune | Jeremy Gorner, Dan Hinkel