In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the stop and frisk practices of New Jersey’s largest city, Newark. Much of the data reviewed was collected under the leadership of Garry McCarthy, who now heads the Chicago Police Department.(31)

The DOJ reviewed thousands of officers’ “field inquiry reports” and found that officers did not write down any reason at all for 16% of all stops.(32) Of the reports that did contain the rationale for the stop, officers failed to articulate reasonable suspicion 75% of the time.(33) The DOJ found that “black people in Newark have been stopped and arrested at a significantly higher rate than their white and Hispanic counterparts [and] [t]his disparity is stark and unremitting.”(34) Between January 2009 and June 2012, 80% of stops were of black individuals, yet Newark’s population was just 54% black.(35)

In February 2014, the ACLU of New Jersey released a report that showed that there continues to be an unreasonably high number of stop and frisks in Newark, especially of black citizens, and that only 25% of all stops result in an arrest or summons.(36)


In 2010, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia alleging that the city’s police were illegally stopping and frisking thousands of civilians without reason and based on their race.(37) The lawsuit was settled in 2011 when the police department agreed to collect data on their stop and frisk practices and make the information available in an electronic database.(38) The settlement agreement also mandated that police officers not stop civilians based only on vague rationale like “loitering” or “acting suspiciously,” and that they limit investigative stops to when there is reasonable suspicion.(39) After the police officers were retrained on these issues and new protocols were adopted regarding stop and frisks, plaintiffs continued monitoring the electronic data for thousands of stops. As of February 2015, plaintiffs and the police agreed that over 30% of stops lacked a sufficient rationale and that the significant racial disparities in stops and frisks could not be explained by other factors such as localized crime rates.(40)


New York City may prove to be the best lesson in the inefficacy of stop and frisks. NYPD has conducted more than 5 million stops since 2002. Almost nine out of ten times, the person was not arrested, and fewer than 2% of frisked people were found with weapons.(41)

This rampant misconduct was challenged in a five-year-long lawsuit that concluded in 2013 when NYPD’s stop and frisk policy was found to violate Fourth Amendment rights and constitute a “policy of indirect racial profiling.” The judge stated that the NYPD “deliberately maintained and even escalated policies and practices that predictably resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations. …The NYPD has repeatedly turned a blind eye to clear evidence of unconstitutional stops and frisks.”(42)

The New York Police, under the Bloomberg administration, had often raised the specter of an exponential surge in violent crime if the practice of stop and frisk was put to rest. However, the numbers of violent crime and robberies fell in the year following this court ruling.(43) In fact, New York saw just 332 murders in 2014— the lowest recorded number in the city’s history—even as the number of stop and frisks plummeted.(44)


Highly-publicized instances of excessive force and discriminatory policing in Seattle drew the attention of the DOJ, which began investigating the Seattle Police Department in 2011.(45) The DOJ found “a pattern or practice of unnecessary or excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,”(46) which led to serious concerns that “some SPD policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in discriminatory policing.”(47) Regarding street stops, the DOJ stated that “some data and citizen input suggest that inappropriate pedestrian encounters may disproportionately involve youth of color.”(48) It was noted that the police department failed to collect or analyze data about pedestrian encounters, which made it impossible to conclusively find that they were engaging in biased policing. Consequently, the DOJ brought a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, which resulted in a consent decree in 2012.(49) One requirement of that agreement was the collection of data to enable the analysis of trends.(50) However, the most recent monitor’s report stated that such a system of data collection has only recently begun to be developed.(51) According to the report, the police department should develop and “robustly use a high-quality system and defined process for systematically analyzing data on stop activity, as well as other law enforcement activity, to determine if any groups or classes of individuals are being subject to disparate impact.”(52) SPD is now in the process of seeking bids for such a system. One highlight of the report, however, was that all SPD officers were on track to receive intensive training on stops, detentions and bias-free policing by the end of 2014, with more training to come in 2015.(53)


The Boston Police Department provided independent researchers with over 204,000 reports of civilian encounters, including stop and frisks, that took place from 2007 to 2010.(54) These researchers looked into how race impacted stops and searches and how encounters were documented. Preliminary findings showed that 63.3% of these civilian encounter reports involved black residents, although Boston’s population is just 24.4% black.(55) The researchers also determined that, even controlling for factors like neighborhood crime rates or gang affiliation, officers were more likely to initiate encounters with black people, and they were also more likely to subject black Bostonians to repeated encounters and to frisks and searches.(56) Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggests that police officers do not always fill out reports after stopping and/or frisking civilians.(57) And, as in Chicago, the data for arrests is kept separate from that for civilian encounters, making it impossible to determine how often a stop and frisk leads to arrest.


In 2000, the City of Los Angeles entered into a consent decree after the Department of Justice accused the city’s police department of “engaging in a pattern or practice of excessive force, false arrests, and unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments…”(58) Among other things, the consent decree required that the police department expand their data collection practices, including of both stop and frisks and traffic stops, which enabled researchers to investigate whether there were trends of racially biased policing.(59) A study prepared for the ACLU of Southern California found that during a one-year period from 2003 to 2004, black and Hispanic residents were far more likely to be stopped, frisked, searched and arrested than white residents, and that black and Hispanic residents who were searched were less likely to have contraband than white residents.(60)
If you are interested in obtaining the raw data referenced in this report, please contact us.

(31) Newark DOJ Report supra note 25, at 10 n. 9 (explaining time period of the data); Robert Wildeboer, Interview: Gary McCarthy on the future of the Chicago Police Department, WBEC.ORG,(Aug. 15, 2011)
(32) Newark DOJ Report supra note 25, at 8.
(33) Newark DOJ Report supra note 25, at 9 n.7.
(34) Newark DOJ Report supra note 25, at 16.
(35) Newark DOJ Report supra note 25, at 16.
(36) Stop and Frisk: A First Look, Six Months of Data on Stop-and-Frisk Practices in Newark, at 10 (Feb. 2014) (37) See Complaint for Plaintiffs, Bailey v. City of Philadelphia, 2010 WL 4662865 (E.D.Pa.) (No. 210CV05952) available at
(38) Settlement Agreement, Class Certification and Consent Decree at 3, Bailey v. City of Philadelphia (2011) (C.A. No. 10-5952) available
(39) Id. at 4.
(40) Plaintiffs’ Fifth Report to Court and Monitor on Stop and Frisk Practices, at 3, 21, Bailey v. City of Philadelphia (2013) (C.A. No. 10-5952), available at
(41Floyd v. City of New York, 959 F. Supp. 2d 540, 558 (S.D.N.Y. 2013), appeal dismissed (Sept. 25, 2013). See also Stop-and-Frisk During the Bloomberg Administration (August 2014), available at
(42) Id. at 658-659. (43) J. David Goodman, New York Crime Keeps Falling, Mayor de Blasio Says; Cites years of ‘Momentum’, N.Y. TIMES, (Dec. 2, 2014),
(44) City of New York Police Department, CompStat Volume 22, No. 9, available at
(45) See Seattle DOJ Report, supra note 29.
(46 Seattle DOJ Report, supra note 29, at 4.
(47) Seattle DOJ Report, supra note 29, at 3.
(48) Seattle DOJ Report, at 6.
(49) See Order Provisionally Approving Settlement Agreement, United State v. City of Seattle (2012), (NO. C12-1282JLR) available at
(50) Id.
(51) Fourth Semiannual Report, SEATTLE POLICE MONITOR, at 4 (Dec. 14, 2014) available at [hereinafter Fourth Seattle Monitor Report]. (52) Fourth Seattle Monitor Report supra note 55, at 10.
(53 Fourth Seattle Monitor Report supra note 55, at 3, 87.
(54) Black, Brown and Targeted: A report on Boston Police Department Street Encounters from 2007-2010, at 10 (Oct. 2014) [hereinafter Boston Report].
(55) Boston Report supra note 8, at 5.
(56) Boston Report supra note 8, at 1.
(57) Boston Report supra note 8, at 10. (58) Consent Decree at 1, United States v. City of Los Angeles, LAPDONLINE.ORG
(59) See generally Consent Decree, United States v. City of Los Angeles, LAPDONLINE. ORG
(60) See Ian Ayers and Jonathan Borowsky, A Study of Racially Disparate Outcomes in the Los Angeles Police Department, (Oct. 2008) LAW.YALE.EDU,

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