As national attention focuses around the disproportionate use of police stop-and-frisks against minorities in New York City, nearby Newark, New Jersey has announced a policy to voluntarily release a raft of data about stops by the state’s largest police department.
According to an order approved by the City Council Tuesday, the police department will release data every month that includes not just statistics about the nature of stops and frisks, but also information about internal complaints filed, and the results of those complaints. Newarks’ internal complaints process has weathered particular criticism, with a 2011 ACLU review showing that out of 261 complaints filed over the course of two years on excessive force or improper policing, only one was sustained. A federal investigation of the procedure is ongoing, but new statistics posted on a website will allow the public to better monitor policing. Monthly statistics will document every stop, the reason for the stop, whether there was a subsequent frisk, and whether force was used. The reports will also include information on the race, sex, age, and language proficiency of the subjects, as well as whether the individual stopped was a student.
Wayne Fisher, a professor at the Rutgers Police Institute, told the Newark Star-Ledger that no other police department publishes information this detailed this often.
The New York Police Department, whose controversial and rampant stop-and-frisk practices are now under review in a major class action lawsuit, was forced to release 10 years of data about stop-and-frisks in 2008. It now publishes a database with police logs of stops in paper release quarterly, and on its website annually. Statistics about the NYPD program showed that officers stopped more young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city, and the program continues to disproportionately target blacks and Latinos, even though stops of whites are more than twice as likely to yield a weapon, and the overwhelming majority of stops result in no charges at all.