The Associated Press
BALTIMORE- The mayor called for better police record-keeping and training after a newspaper reported that officers stopped and frisked citizens thousands of times but reported only 11 such stops to state authorities in the past year.The report in Sunday's Baltimore Sun also said blacks appear to be stopped more often than whites.
While saying that he supports the use of "stop and frisk," Mayor Martin O'Malley said Wednesday that police must comply with state law, which requires that a report on each stop be sent to the Maryland State Police to ensure the stops are legally justified.
"I'm supportive of the legal and constitutional use of this tactic, and I'm also supportive of taking more guns off the streets and seizing more drugs," O'Malley told the newspaper.
Before stopping and patting down a person to search for weapons, an officer is supposed to have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is armed and may be involved in a crime.
The Sun said internal documents suggest officers have conducted more than 130,000 stop-and-frisks through the first nine months of this year in the city of 641,000.
City officials said that number is vastly inflated by double counting and other problems, and offered a figure of 1,804, the newspaper said. But an audited count in one district alone found 3,800 stops, the newspaper said.
In addition, the newspaper said, a preliminary police analysis of 1,804 stop-and-frisks showed that six times more blacks than whites were stopped, though the black to white ratio in the city's population is far smaller, roughly two to one.
"We all realize and appreciate very much the very serious situation we find ourselves in with crime in Baltimore," said Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "But at the same time, we cannot violate people's rights."
As of late September, city police had submitted 11 stop-and-frisk reports for the previous 12 months, according to Maryland State Police records.
Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said that department officials agreed with the mayor's position. He said that an internal audit of how many stop and frisks were conducted this year was "a couple of weeks" from completion.
The police union said it had received complaints that stops are being overused to ratchet up statistics. Lt. Frederick V. Roussey, the president of the police union, told the newspaper that some officers call stop-and-frisks a "VCR detail" _ for violation of civil rights.