ACLU-DC sues Metropolitan Police Department for not releasing stop-and-frisk data

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. has filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department for not releasing its stop-and-frisk data.

MPD is required to publish its stop-and-frisk data under the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act, but ACLU-DC Liman Fellow Megan Yan says the police department hasn’t done so since March 2020.

“[The D.C. City Council wants] to know more about how, why, and especially who is being stopped by the police and the Metropolitan Police Department has been fighting that responsibility every step of the way,” said Yan. “They’ve shown a real stubborn refusal to turn over the most basic request.”

This is the second lawsuit related to the NEAR Act that the ACLU-DC has filed. “For over three years after the Act was passed,” ACLU-DC says in its filing, “MPD failed to collect this data, violating its legal obligations.” In 2016, the ACLU DC, Black Lives Matter D.C. and Stop Police Terror Project D.C. sued MPD. The police department “overhauled its data-collection system and committed publicly to releasing stop-and-frisk data twice a year.” 

In January, ACLU-DC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for MPD’s stop-and-frisk data going back to January 1, 2020. ACLU-DC says MPD did not respond to the request by February 10, as it was required to do, so the organization filed suit in D.C. Superior Court “to enforce MPD’s obligations under FOIA.” 

Yan wants the data published by the MPD’s performance oversight hearing, which will be hosted by the city council on March 11. “The public and the police department will be testifying at that hearing and it’s important for elected officials to hold the police accountable.”

The police department released six months of its 2019 stop-and-frisk data and Yan says there were “huge racial disparities.” 72% of individuals stopped by police were Black. 91% of MPD’s searches of Black individuals didn’t lead to a warning, ticket, or arrest, “supporting an inference that Black people are more likely to have been stopped by MPD without justification.” 

“Many residents in this district have been harassed, have been traumatized, have felt a lot of pain with their interactions with police,” Yan said. “There’s a real reason for their distrust and it’s important that we have this data so we can represent their stories as well.”

WDVM has reached out to the Metropolitan Police Department for comment.

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