Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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Group Threat, Police Officer Diversity and the Deadly Use of Police Force

May 15, 2016

Prior research indicates that (perceived) group threat measured in terms of population shares and race-specific crime rates are important explanations for variations in police killings across cities in the United States. The authors argue that a diverse police force that proportionally represents the population it serves mitigates group threat and thereby reduces the number of officer-involved killings. The findings represent one of the first analysis of a highly relevant contemporary issue based on a recent and high-quality dataset from 2013 to 2015. By highlighting the interaction between group threat and the proportional representation of minority groups in police departments, the research advances group conflict and threat theories with important theoretical and policy implications for law enforcement and representative bureaucracies more broadly.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Reform Strategies; Use of Force

An Analysis of Race and Ethnicity Patterns in Boston Police Department Field Interrogation, Observation, Frisk, and/or Search Reports

June 15, 2015

The report, authored by researchers from Columbia, Rutgers and the University of Massachusetts, analyzed 200,000+ encounters between BPD officers and civilians from 2007–2010. It is intended to provide a factual basis to assess the implementation of proactive policing in Boston and how it affects Boston's diverse neighborhoods. It found racial disparities in the Boston Police Department's stop-and-frisks that could not be explained by crime or other non-race factors. Blacks during that period were the subjects of 63.3% of police-civilian encounters, although less than a quarter of the city's population is Black.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Stop & Frisk