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NYCLU analysis finds racial disparities in stops by Syracuse police

A blue sign with gold lettering that says City of Syracuse Department of Police in front of a 1950s era building with numerous windows.
Maxwell Mimaroglu
The exterior of the public safety building.

Data released by the New York Civil Liberties Union show a stark racial disparity in the number of people stopped by Syracuse police officers.

The NYCLU analyzed more than 70,000 pedestrian and vehicle stops made between 2014 and 2020. They found 65 percent of people were Black, even though 30 percent of city residents are Black.

Deka Dancil, regional NYCLU assistant director of field organizing, says the numbers confirm a pattern of behavior that she and others are well-aware of.

“As somebody who lives in Syracuse, a Black person who has a lot of Black friends, family members and affiliates, this is how we feel," Dancil said. "We feel surveilled and inappropriately harassed by the police. We really didn't need this information to come to this conclusion.  We already know that because we feel that, because we live that.”

Dancil says it amounts to racial profiling. The NYCLU gained access to the data following a long court battle where the Syracuse Police Department claimed it didn’t have to release the information in accordance with the repeal of a state law known as 50A.

NYCLU supervising attorney Bobby Hodgson says this is only the beginning.

“We want more.  We want to understand who would have potentially complained about this or have filed a complaint about what the SPD was doing," Hodgson said. "Were those complaints regarding racial profiling, and what was the result of them. That's the kind of material that would show up in the disciplinary records that Syracuse still hasn't turned over.”

The data also show Black and Latinx community members in Syracuse are frisked and searched at twice the rate of white residents, despite the fact that a larger percentage of white people who were stopped were actually charged with a crime.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at