On Monday, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department released long-awaited figures that provided a snapshot of police stops between July 22 and August 18 of 2019.
The provided data asserts that for every 100 people stopped, 20 were arrested for a crime and 60 received a traffic ticket. The remaining 20 in each set were stopped for an “investigation,” which can mean anything from behavior perceived to be unusual to matching the description of a wanted individual.
However, not all stops included in the data were vehicle-related. Further breakdowns of the data showed that of the 11,600 individuals stopped within the period, 70% were of black, 15% were white, and 7% were Hispanic. The remaining 8% were labeled “other.”
Black residents of Washington, DC, make up around 47% of the city’s population, but the statistics note that 70% of the vehicles pulled over were from outside of the capital.
“I’m not surprised to see there’s a significant racial disparity in terms of the stops. That confirms what we’ve been hearing from community member[s] for years. Whether there’s a legitimate explanation for that remains to be seen,” Scott Michelman, legal co-director of the Washington, DC, chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the DCist.
Of the stops resulting in people receiving tickets, 61% were of black people, 20% white, 8% Hispanic and 11% “other.”
Possibly realizing how jarring the statistics are, the DC Metro Police’s webpage has made sure to assert that all stops “had a purpose and legal grounding” and were brief, with 90% of them lasting less than 30 minutes.
This data also comes months after charges of obstruction of justice and assault on a police officer were filed against Tapiwa Musonza, who was struck repeatedly with a stun gun at a DC Metro station platform after questioning Metro Transit Police officers who were arresting several juveniles.
The cops claimed in their report that they felt threatened by Musonza’s "fighting stance” and that he “exhibited behavior consistent with preparing to fight the officer.” Metro Transit Police later dropped the charges, but it’s unclear if any action was taken against the offending officer.