Boston Police Department Releases Latest Field Interrogation Observation Data

In keeping with his commitment to transparency, Commissioner Evans has released the latest Field Interrogation/Observation (FIO) data, which includes FIO information from June 2015 to December 2016. The release of this data follows the January 2016 release of similar data for FIO reports completed from 2011 through April 2015.  Dr. Anthony Braga of Northeastern University, Dr. Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University School of Law, and Professor John MacDonald of University of Pennsylvania are currently studying the FIO data from 2011 through 2016, and the Department expects  the study’s findings will be publically available later this year.

Like the prior study, the study of the 2016 data will examine how BPD officers are utilizing the FIO program. While the study is being completed, the Department cautions against the use of simple benchmark comparisonsof the racial distribution of Boston residents relative to the racial distribution of FIO subjects for purposes of determining racial disparities in BPD FIO practices. There are many other complicated factors, such as neighborhood crime, police deployments, and neighborhood social disadvantage, as well individual factors such as criminal history and known gang membership that are correlated with the racial distribution of FIO subjects. Determining racial disparities in BPD FIO practices requires complex statistical analyses before any firm conclusions can, or should, be drawn.

2016 FIO Data Summary:

In 2016, BPD officers submitted 9,049 FIO reports involving 14,995 individuals.

The total number of individual subjects in BPD FIO reports DECREASED by nearly 57% from 34,531 individuals in 2014 to 14,953 in 2016.

Additionally, since the high of 55,684 individuals subjected to FIO reports in 2008, the number of individual subjects in BPD FIO reports DECREASED by over 73% through 2016.  See Table 1 below.

When reviewing this data, it is important to note that subjects of FIO reports are not always stopped. Specifically in 2016, 14.8% of the completed FIOs were mere observations.  See Table 3 below.

Table 1.


The following tables highlight additional components and circumstances of BPD’s 2016 FIO program.


Table 2. Circumstances of the FIO Encounter

                                    N=Subject       Percent

Stopped                       5,689               62.5

Encountered                2,068               22.7

Observed                     1,344               14.8

Total                            9,101               100.0


Table 3. Basis of the FIO Encounter

                                    N                     Percent

Probable cause            3,959               43.5

Reasonable suspicion2,000               22.0

Encounter                    1,940               21.3

Intel                             1,202               13.2

Total                            9,101               100.0


Table 4. Did the FIO Encounter involve at least one subject being frisked?                       

                                    N                     Percent

Yes                              2,676               29.4

No                               6,425               70.6

Total                            9,101               100.0              


Table 5. Did the FIO Encounter involve at least one subject being searched?

                                    N                     Percent

Yes                              1,179               13.0

No                               7,922               87.0

Total                            9,101               100.0  


Table 6. Stop Duration

                                                N                     Percent

Five to ten minutes                 3,604               39.6

Less than five minutes            1,730               19.0

Ten to fifteen minutes             1,328               14.6

Fifteen to twenty minutes       874                  9.6

Other durations                       807                  8.9

Missing                                    758                  8.3

Total                                        9,101               100.0


Table 7. FIO Subject Age

                                    N                     Percent

17 & younger              1,239               8.3

18 – 24                        4,681               31.3

25 – 34                        5,167               34.6

35 – 44                        1,623               10.9

45 & older                   1,896             12.6

Missing                        347                  2.3

Total                            14,953             100.0


Race and Ethnicity

With the implementation of the new RMS system, different Race and Ethnicity categories were used. The old RMS system limited BPD officers to a mutually exclusive selection of the FIO subject’s race and ethnicity (White, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American / Hawaiian / Alaskan / Pacific Islander, or other).  The new RMS designates Hispanic subjects in a separate ethnicity variable that is no longer mutually exclusive to other specific race categories. While this improvement allows the BPD to better document the race and ethnicity of FIO subjects, it makes comparing FIO subject race trends between the two systems more difficult. For example:


Table 8. Adjusted 2016 FIO Subject Race Using Old RMS Designations

                                                N=Subject       Percent

White                                      2,544               17.0%

Black                                       9,514               63.6%

Hispanic                                  2,215               14.8%

Asian / PI / Other                    140                  0.1%

Unknown / Missing                 540                  3.6%

Total                                        14,953             100.0%


While the 2016 FIO data shows an increase in the percentage of black FIO subjects between 2014 and 2016, a majority of the increase may be attributable to the ability for officers to include both race and ethnicity.


Table 9. 2016 FIO Subject Race

                                                                        N = Subject     Percent

Black                                                               10,369             69.4

White                                                              3,640               24.3

Missing / Unknown                                         793                  5.3

Asian                                                               120                  0.8

Native American / Alaskan / Hawaiian / PI    31                    0.2

Total                                                                14,953             100.0


Table 10. 2016 FIO Subject Ethnicity

                                                            N                     Percent       

Hispanic Origin                                   2,215               14.8                

Not of Hispanic Origin                       6,666               44.6

Missing / Unknown                             6,072               40.6

Total                                                    14,953             100.0

*NOTE: The number and content of records shared here in our preliminary analysis may differ slightly from official data provided on the City Data Portal. These files are extracted from live databases which may have records added or updated at any time. From the completion of this preliminary analysis, entries may have since been corrected or cleaned to ensure the most accurate information is available to the public. 

For all current publically released FIO data, please click on the link below:

For additional information on BPD’s FIO program and past analysis please visit the links below: