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Boston police more likely to stop blacks, report says

BOSTON -- An American Civil Liberties Union report says Boston's black residents are more likely than white people to be stopped, questioned or searched by police. Police leaders are condemning the study, saying it is based on old data.

Black residents make up 24 percent of the city's population. The ACLU of Massachusetts report released Wednesday said between 2007 and 2010, 63 percent of more than 200,000 "civilian-police encounters" involved blacks.

The study also found blacks were 8 percent more likely to be involved in multiple police encounters and 12 percent more likely to be stopped and frisked.

Commissioner William Evans says the data is old and doesn't take into account new training.

He also says police do not focus on race but concentrate their efforts in high-crime areas of the city.

Boston Police pointed out that 5 percent of the people stopped account for 40 percent of the total encounters, CBS Boston reported. They say that's because they stop known gang members and people with criminal records over and over.

"These findings are clear evidence of racial bias in BPD policing," said Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. "This practice contradicts the principle of equal protection under the law, which is guaranteed by both the U.S. and Massachusetts Constitutions. We hope that we can work collaboratively with the BPD to address this problem."

Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department has enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement in five American cities and recommend strategies to address the problem nationally.

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