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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Language from Police Body Camera Footage Shows Racial Disparities in Officer Respect

March 26, 2017

Using footage from body-worn cameras, we analyze the respectfulness of police officer language toward white and black community members during routine traffic stops. We develop computational linguistic methods that extract levels of respect automatically from transcripts, informed by a thin-slicing study of participant ratings of officer utterances. We find that officers speak with consistently less respect toward black versus white community members, even after controlling for the race of the officer, the severity of the infraction, the location of the stop, and the outcome of the stop. Such disparities in common, everyday interactions between police and the communities they serve have important implications for procedural justice and the building of police–community trust.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Traffic Stops

Driving While Black And Brown In Vermont

January 9, 2017

Vermont is perceived to be a political outlier in the United States. It was the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777. And in our more recent history, Vermont was one of the first states to legalize civil unions and to push (unsuccessfully) for a single payer health care system. When it comes to race relations, it is assume d that Vermont is equally liberal and as result, racial bias towards people who are Black and Hispanic, evident in other parts of the country, should largely be absent here. This paper investigates that assumption. In particular, the authors analyze police traffic stop data to assess the extent, if any, of racial disparities in policing. This task is made possible by legislation passed in the Vermont House that required police departments to begin to collect traffic stop data by race as of September 2014. 

Racial Bias & Profiling; Traffic Stops

Racial Disparities in Florida Safety Belt Law Enforcement

January 1, 2016

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) analysis of the most recent seatbelt citation data confirms that the Florida Safety Belt Law has been applied more often to Black motorists than white motorists. Across Florida, and in specific counties, Blacks are stopped and issued seatbelt citations far out of proportion to their estimated representation among Florida drivers, despite the fact that Black and white people in Florida use seatbelts at closely comparable rates. These findings suggest that biased policing impacts seatbelt enforcement.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Traffic Stops

Improving Fairness and Addressing Racial Disparities in the Delaware Criminal Justice System

September 1, 2015

This memorandum summarizes existing scholarly research on police stops; pretrial detention; charging, plea bargaining, and sentencing; and alternatives to incarceration. For each topic, the memo surveys the extent to which each of these contributes to racial disparities as well as inaccuracies in criminal justice; identifies reforms that have worked elsewhere to ameliorate these problems; and considers the extent to which these reforms are compatible with preserving and improving public safety. The memorandum concludes with a brief discussion of recent scholarship that both highlights larger social factors that contribute to disparity and identifies programs and initiatives outside of the criminal justice system that might reduce racial disparities within the system.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Reform Strategies; Traffic Stops

Picking Up the Pieces: A Minneapolis Case Study

April 15, 2015

The report digs into 33 months of data the ACLU obtained from the police department and explores the who, what, when, where, why, and how of low-level arrests occurring in a city known for its affluence and liberal politics. The report also recommends reforms to begin the process of improving police-community relations and ensuring that all Minneapolitans are policed fairly.

Reform Strategies; Traffic Stops

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Traffic Stops: Analysis of Vermont State Police Data, 2010-2011

October 1, 2014

This paper reports the results of an analysis of the Vermon State Police's first year of race data on traffic stops, arrests, and searches for the period July 2010 through June 2011. The results are compared to those reported in McDevitt and Posick (2011). The main innovation of this study is that it examines racial differences in outcomes for each minority group relative to Whites, while the previous study combined all minorities into one group for comparison to White drivers. As a result the analyses and conclusions drawn differ, with this study finding much more robust evidence of racial disparities in policing, particularly for Blacks and Hispanics.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Traffic Stops

Building Public Confidence: Ending Racial Profiling in Nebraska

August 1, 2014

The report reviewed data collected by the Nebraska Crime Commission. The ACLU's analysis of the data found that "profiling in Nebraska traffic stops disproportionately and negatively affects communities of colors." The ACLU report focuses on three findings: 1) People of color are more likely to be pulled over. 2) People of color are more likely to be arrested: a white driver has a 1 in 48 chance of being arrested compared to a 1 in 13 chance for drivers of color. The data showed that there was not a significant difference in the actual offenses committed by the drivers. 3) People of color are more likely to be subjected to searches.

Racial Bias & Profiling; Reform Strategies; Traffic Stops