According to car stop data for June and July of this year, the Baltimore Police Department is making the most car stops in the city’s poor, Black neighborhoods.
In total, in June 2021, police made a total of 2,933 car stops, and in July 2021, 3,046 car stops.
In Baltimore City’s majority Black and heavily-divested Ninth District in West Baltimore, police made 516 car stops in June 2021 and 557 car stops in July 2021.
Those Ninth District stops make up approximately 18% of each month’s stops. These are by far the most stops in the city. The second highest number of stops during the past two months were in the Seventh District, which had 324 stops in June 2021 and 462 in July 2021.
The Ninth District contains some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, which are often less walkable and bike-able than other whiter parts of the city and are beholden to the city’s poor transit infrastructure—which puts more people into cars in areas where police are more apt to make traffic stops.
The 2016 report “Over-Policed Yet Underserved” by the West Baltimore Commission on Police Misconduct and the No Boundaries Coalition details the disproportionate policing West Baltimoreans experience.
“If the theory of law enforcement is that it acts as a deterrent to crime, the problem in West Baltimore seems to be that the legal response to crime is not being applied fairly and consistently,” the report said. “Many witnesses who experienced the police’s excessive use of force, who were subjected to unreasonable stops and searches (‘stop and frisk’), and/or who were even detained were not committing any crime at the time of their encounter with police.”
The Ninth District includes the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, which is where Freddie Gray was stopped, transported, and killed by Baltimore Police. In the Ninth District this year there have been 68 homicides and 208 shootings. Earlier this year, residents of the Ninth District’s Harlem Park neighborhood settled with the city as a result of the neighborhood-wide, unconstitutional lockdown of that neighborhood by police, following the fatal shooting of a Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter.
“When they locked down Harlem Park after Suiter’s death it was actually horrible. You couldn’t even go in and out of your house without showing ID,” a Harlem Park resident told Battleground Baltimore. “They want to search your car every day and they want to know who you are and why you’re down here. They just was harassing people for no reason, you know, kicking in people doors.”
A 2018 report about the racist enforcement of cannabis laws from Baltimore Fishbowl co-authored by Battleground Baltimore’s Brandon Soderberg showed that the area code that includes much of the Ninth District had the most misdemeanor cannabis possession arrests in the years following 2014’s cannabis decriminalization (486 of nearly 3,200 arrests).
This information comes thanks to Third District Councilperson Ryan Dorsey, who provided the traffic stop data to Battleground Baltimore. Dorsey requested the information from the Baltimore Police Department, he explained, because constituents in his district were upset about a lack of traffic enforcement as it pertained to speeding, running red lights, and other moving violations which make pedestrians, bikers, and other drivers less safe.
“Residents in my district want far more traffic enforcement. It’s their greatest and most consistent policing request by a wide margin,” Dorsey told Battleground Baltimore. “Meanwhile they see police sitting in patrol cars staring at their phones, or socializing with another, and they feel this is time that could easily be spent to positive effect on traffic enforcement, but isn’t. The community feels it’s being ignored. I requested information I knew would corroborate the constituent concern.”
Dorsey’s district, the data shows, has some of the lowest number of traffic stops in the city. In June 2021, there were 74 stops there, and in July 2021, there were 59 stops.
“Not surprisingly, the information not only affirmed residents’ beliefs that police aren’t policing what people feel is important, but that police are continuing the same disproportionate over-policing of Baltimore’s poorest, Blackest neighborhoods just as they were four years ago when the City entered into the consent decree,” Dorsey said.
The full numbers for car stops are below:
|June 2021||July 2021|
|Council District 1||151||194|
|Council District 2||113||117|
|Council District 3||74||59|
|Council District 4||48||39|
|Council District 5||185||203|
|Council District 6||262||138|
|Council District 7||274||462|
|Council District 8||140||131|
|Council District 9||516||558|
|Council District 10||239||202|
|Council District 11||217||245|
|Council District 12||268||297|
|Council District 13||324||315|
|Council District 14||72||33|
Additionally, there were 50 uncategorizable stops in June 2021 and 53 in July 2021, BPD explained, “likely due to a bad address or format.”