Race and policing
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Stark racial inequity has long been a deeply troubling aspect of our criminal justice system. In recent years, traffic stops have emerged as a key factor driving some of these inequities and an area of potential reform. Are there opportunities to identify kinds of traffic stops that could be enforced in alternative ways—potentially improving officer and civilian safety, enhancing police efficiency, and reducing racial disparities—without jeopardizing road safety?To explore this question, in this report we use data on 3.4 million traffic stops made in 2019 by California's 15 largest law enforcement agencies to examine racial disparities in stop outcomes and experiences across time of the day, type of law enforcement agency, and type of traffic violation.
The recent protests and civil unrest that marked the death of George Floyd and other African Americans in police custody gave voice to real and significant racial disparities in our criminal justice system. In California, like the rest of the nation, these disparities—especially those between African Americans and whites—are large and widespread. Encouragingly, some recent reforms appear to be making headway in reducing racial and ethnic differences in arrest, booking, and incarceration rates.