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Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

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

TitlePolice Encounters Among Needle Exchange Clients in Baltimore: Drug Law Enforcement as a Structural Determinant of Health
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBeletsky, L, Cochrane, J, Sawyer, AL, Serio-Chapman, C, Smelyanskaya, M, Han, J, Robinowitz, N, Sherman, SG
JournalAm J Public Health
Volume105
Pagination1872-9
Date PublishedSep
ISBN Number0090-0036
Accession Number26180948
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 2 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 1 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.

PMCID

Pmc4539845