Reporting and Analysis
Though data collection is an important part of a department's strategy to address perceptions of bias, taken by itself it may not resolve the debate about the existence of racial profiling. One problem is that analysis of traffic or pedestrian stop data attempts to measure a problem of individual perceptions with aggregate statistics. Therefore, regardless of its quality, traffic or pedestrian stop data by itself will not alter accounts about racial profiling. Instead, data may be used to bolster a group's existing opinion, or dismissed as inaccurate when it conflicts with an account. Community-police task forces designed to foster an open discussion about the results and implications of traffic or pedestrian stop data offer one method for integrating data analysis into an on-going dialogue about police activity.
One model that jurisdictions have employed to help bring both police and community representatives together to resolve questions about racial profiling is a community-police task force. Though the majority of racial profiling task forces were originally designed to oversee the data collection process, they also offer a unique opportunity to open up discussion about police and community accounts of racial profiling.
Bringing together stakeholders from the police agency and the community to participate in the data collection and analysis phases of the project fosters the development of mutually agreed upon problem-solving strategies based on the findings from the research. The task force model, in theory, becomes a vehicle through which both sides can express their views about the problem of profiling, review relevant research findings, and seek mutually agreeable solutions. Although racial profiling task forces may not result in agreement or conversion, they may produce a set of agreed-upon principles that can guide future police community interactions.