Police Encounters Among Needle Exchange Clients in Baltimore: Drug Law Enforcement as a Structural Determinant of Health

American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 105, No. 9, pp. 1872-1879 (2015). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302681

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 239-2015

Posted: 27 Aug 2015

See all articles by Leo Beletsky

Leo Beletsky

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences; Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine

Jess Cochrane

Tufts University - School of Medicine

Anne Sawyer

Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health

Chris Serio-Chapman

Baltimore City Health Department

Marina Smelyanskaya

Open Society Foundations (OSF)

Jennifer Han

Baltimore City Health Department

Natanya Robinowitz

Baltimore City Health Department

Susan Sherman

Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health

Date Written: August 26, 2015

Abstract

Objectives. We piloted a monitoring mechanism to document police encounters around programs targeting people who inject drugs (PWID), and assessed their demographic predictors at two Baltimore, Maryland, needle exchange program (NEP) sites.

Methods. In a brief survey, 308 clients quantified, characterized, and sited recent police encounters. Multivariate linear regression determined encounter predictors, and we used geocoordinate maps to illustrate clusters.

Results. Within the past 6 months, clients reported a median of 3 stops near NEP sites (interquartile range [IQR] = 0–7.5) and a median of one arrest in any location (IQR = 0–2). Three respondents reported police referral to the NEP. Being younger (P = .009), being male (P = .033), and making frequent NEP visits (P = .02) were associated with reported police stops. Among clients reporting arrest or citation for syringe possession, Whites were significantly less likely than non-Whites to report being en route to or from an NEP (P < .001). Reported encounters were clustered around NEPs.

Conclusions. Systematic surveillance of structural determinants of health for PWID proved feasible when integrated into service activities. Improved monitoring is critical to informing interventions to align policing with public health, especially among groups subject to disproportionate levels of drug law enforcement.

Suggested Citation

Beletsky, Leo and Cochrane, Jess and Sawyer, Anne and Serio-Chapman, Chris and Smelyanskaya, Marina and Han, Jennifer and Robinowitz, Natanya and Sherman, Susan, Police Encounters Among Needle Exchange Clients in Baltimore: Drug Law Enforcement as a Structural Determinant of Health (August 26, 2015). American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 105, No. 9, pp. 1872-1879 (2015). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302681; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 239-2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2651147

Leo Beletsky (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-5540 (Phone)

Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Jess Cochrane

Tufts University - School of Medicine ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

Anne Sawyer

Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health ( email )

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Chris Serio-Chapman

Baltimore City Health Department ( email )

1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Marina Smelyanskaya

Open Society Foundations (OSF) ( email )

224 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
United States

Jennifer Han

Baltimore City Health Department ( email )

1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Natanya Robinowitz

Baltimore City Health Department ( email )

1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Susan Sherman

Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health ( email )

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
724
PlumX Metrics