With Baltimore police taking (and accepting) flak recently for failing to track and analyze its officers' use of the controversial stop-and-frisk tactic, another agency has the data and isn't doing much with it, either.
State law requires police agencies to forward a copy of every stop-and-frisk report to the Maryland State Police, which receives them at irregular intervals and does not sort them or enter them into a database. The agency keeps the reports for one year before tossing them, said spokeswoman Elena Wendell-Russo.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which criticized city police for producing data on stop and frisk that appeared to be incomplete and unaudited, said the state police should be doing more with the data they receive.
"The value of that [data collection] seems questionable if state police aren't looking at it and really evaluating what they're getting, not just in terms of what the data shows but whether they're confident that they are actually receiving all of the reports that they're supposed to be receiving," said Sonia Kumar, an ACLU of Maryland staff attorney who is working on the issue.
Wendell-Russo declined to respond to the ACLU's comments, saying state police follow the requirements of the law.
"Stop and frisk" is the term used to describe when police pat down someone based on reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and "presently dangerous." Also known as a "Terry stop" — referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that such searches were not a violation of the Fourth Amendment — the procedure has become a flash point in places like New York City.
In its response to a Public Information Act request from the ACLU, Baltimore police said officers had stopped citizens more than 120,000 times in 2012.
Of the 90,000 stops that city police had entered into a database for analysis, police said only 494 involved searches and that nine guns were found, which the ACLU said stretches credibility. The agency also withheld the underlying reports, saying they would take weeks to compile and would cost thousands of dollars.
Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said he was in "strong agreement" with the concerns raised by the ACLU and wants to include the civil liberties group in efforts to fix the problem.