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ANALYSIS OF RACIAL DISPARITIES IN THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT'S STOP, QUESTION, AND FRISK PRACTICESRAND Corporation
In 2006, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stopped a half-million pedestrians for suspected criminal involvement. Raw statistics for these encounters suggest large racial disparities — 89 percent of the stops involved nonwhites. Do these statistics point to racial bias in police officers’ decisions to stop particular pedestrians? Do they indicate that officers are particularly intrusive when stopping nonwhites? The NYPD asked the RAND Center on Quality Policing (CQP) to help it understand this issue and identify recommendations for addressing potential problems. CQP researchers analyzed data on all street encounters between NYPD officers and pedestrians in 2006. They compared the racial distribution of stops to external benchmarks, attempts to construct what the racial distribution of the stopped pedestrians would have been if officers’ stop decisions had been racially unbiased. Then they compared each officer’s stopping patterns with an internal benchmark constructed from stops in similar circumstances made by other officers. Finally, they examined stop outcomes, assessing whether stopped white and nonwhite suspects have different rates of frisk, search, use of force, and arrest. They found small racial differences in these rates and make communication, recordkeeping, and training recommendations to the NYPD for improving police-pedestrian interactions.
The Jacksonville Police Department presented its annual Racial Profiling Report which covers Calendar Year 2008 and showed that JPD received no formal reports of racial profiling. It also confirmed that local police are conducting traffic stops using legal criteria and not race as their motivation for enforcement action. Currently, the Texas Racial Profiling Law requires that police departments collect data pertaining to traffic stops, pedestrian stops, searches conducted and citations issued.
The mayor of Bellaire responded publicly for the first time to allegations of racial profiling due to an incident of mistaken identity. Officers will now be required to participate in additional cultural sensitivity training. The city is also hiring an independent state consultant to analyze traffic stop data for 2008 and look for incidents of racial profiling. The mayor also promised to release the results of the district attorney's investigation publicly, once it is completed.
A woman who claimed she was wrongly arrested by Torrance police because of her race has lost her federal lawsuit against the city, a former chief and two officers. Sara Plowden, who lived in Gardena when she filed the civil rights lawsuit in January 2006, claimed she was subjected to a "driving while black" arrest early on Nov. 23, 2003. She claimed the officers physically accosted her and that city officials and former Police Chief James Herren allowed "an atmosphere of lawlessness, abuse and misconduct" to fester in the department.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety, in moves intended to prevent and detect racial profiling, is making internal changes that include requiring Highway Patrol officers to document why they search vehicles they stop. Other changes announced by Gov. Janet Napolitano's office include requiring officers to obtain a motorist's consent for a search to get the driver's signature or to use video or audio to record the driver giving permission verbally.
Sherida Felders, a black grandmother, alleges a Utah Highway Patrol officer had no reason to believe her Jeep Commander contained illegal substances, but called in a drug-sniffing dog after stopping her for speeding Felders has filed a suit accusing the trooper of conducting an illegal search of her vehicle for drugs based on racial profiling.