Race and Policing
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The term "predictive policing" refers to computer systems that use data to forecast where crime will happen or who will be involved. Some tools produce maps of anticipated crime "hot spots," while others score and flag people deemed most likely to be involved in crime or violence.Though these systems are rolling out in police departments nationwide, our research found pervasive, fundamental gaps in what's publicly known about them.How these tools work and make predictions, how they define and measure their performance and how police departments actually use these systems day-to-day, are all unclear. Further, vendors routinely claim that the inner working of their technology is proprietary, keeping their methods a closely-held trade secret, even from the departments themselves. And early research findings suggest that these systems may not actually make people safer — and that they may lead to even more aggressive enforcement in communities that are already heavily policed.Our study finds a number of key risks in predictive policing, and a trend of rapid, poorly informed adoption in which those risks are often not considered. We believe that conscientious application of data has the potential to improve police practices in the future. But we found little evidence that today's systems live up to their claims, and significant reason to fear that they may reinforce disproportionate and discriminatory policing practices.
2015 - 2016 Annual Report.
How do you measure justice? It is a question that has confounded scholars, activists, and public servants since before it was even asked. Yet, despite the inherent philosophical, methodological, and logistical difficulties, law enforcement executives are increasingly asked to turn over data with the aim of evaluating how fairly they are doing their jobs. Rather than shrink from this task, courageous executives are seeking out partnerships with prominent researchers to solve this riddle and lead policing in the nation with respect to civil rights and public accountability.
This paper explores racial differences in police use of force. On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement (the Panel) was established as an advisory body to the San Francisco District Attorney in May 2015 in the wake of revelations that 14 San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers had exchanged numerous racist and homophobic text messages. Over a one-year period, the Panel examined a number of different aspects of the SFPD to try to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issue, interviewing more than 100 witnesses and reviewing thousands of public documents. The result is this report. Its findings and recommendations strive to give credit where credit is due, but point to several unmistakable conclusions: the SFPD is in need of greater transparency; lacks robust oversight; must rebuild trust with the communities it serves; and should pay greater attention to issues of bias against people of color, both officers and members of the public. In short, the Panel concludes that the SFPD is in urgent need of important reforms.
The current report examines racial disparities in use of force across 12 law enforcement departments from geographically and demographically diverse locations and reveals that racial disparities in police use of force persist even when controlling for racial distribution of local arrest rates. Additionally, multiple participating departments still demonstrated racial disparities when force incidents were benchmarked exclusively against Part I violent arrests, such that Black residents were still more likely than Whites to be targeted for force.
Young people of color are leading the response to recent instances of gun violence. Young people do not all experience gun violence at the same rate nor do they feel its consequences evenly. Our research on young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 years old highlights the very different experiences young people have with guns, gun violence, and policing across racial and ethnic groups.
Police union contracts and statewide Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights laws have created a system ofprotections for police officers that amount to an alternate justice system, creating significant legal and structural barriers to accountability, transparency, and fairness. Of at least 4,024 people killed by police since 2013, only 85 of these cases have led to an officer being charged with a crime. Only 6 cases have led to convictions – fewer than 0.2% of known police killings. Data from some of America's largest police departments show that officers who commit misconduct rarely face administrative consequences, either. It is not surprising that police officers are rarely, if ever, held responsible for their behavior, as the combination of provisions in police union contracts and Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights constitute de facto immunity from liability.Collective bargaining agreements (i.e. contracts) are simply meant to allow due process: employees negotiate with an employer over matters of working conditions, compensation, benefits, and performance management as a group, thus increasing the employee's collective bargaining power. These agreements are meant to ensure that workers are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. They are not meant to denyother citizens fairness, dignity and respect.But that is exactly what police union contracts have done.Police unions across the country have used the collective bargaining process to circumvent basic tenets ofaccountability, transparency, and fairness. In short, as a result of these contracts police officers operate bya completely different set of rules. In many cases, the problematic clauses contained within these contractsappear harmless on the surface but, as our analysis shows, they impose severe restrictions on the ability of police departments and civilian oversight structures to hold officers accountable for police violence.
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are facing claims that they discriminate against community members of color. Inquiries into these claims typically take one of two approaches: either attack the agency for intentional racism, or deny the presence of racial disparities altogether. Yet neither of these approaches has yielded adequate progress toward many agencies' stated mission of serving their communities with fairness and respect. Taking a different approach, the City of Oakland engaged our team of Stanford social psychologists to examine relations between the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Oakland community, and then to develop evidence-based remedies for any racial disparities we might find. Since May 2014, our team has undertaken five research initiatives. We describe our research methods, findings, and recommendations in Strategies for Change: Research Initiatives and Recommendations to Improve Police-Community Relations in Oakland, Calif. We provide a technical report of our main research initiative, a thorough analysis of OPD stop reports, in Data for Change: A Statistical Analysis of Police Stops, Searches, Handcuffings, and Arrests in Oakland, Calif., 2013-2014.
New Stanford research on thousands of police interactions found significant racial differences in Oakland, Calif., police conduct toward African Americans in traffic and pedestrian stops, while offering a big data approach to improving police-community relationships there and elsewhere.The report makes 50 specific recommendations for police agencies to consider, such as more expansive data collection and more focused efforts to change the nature of mindsets, policies and systems in law enforcement that contribute to racial disparities.Among the findings, African American men were four times more likely to be searched than whites during a traffic stop. African Americans were also more likely to be handcuffed, even if they ultimately were not arrested.Across the United States, the report noted, police agencies are guided by the commitment to serve communities with fairness, respect and honor. Yet tensions between police and communities of color are documented to be at an all-time high.
In national research, self-reported marijuana use is similar across races, but in New Orleans, black people are disproportionately arrested for marijuana offenses, including simple possession. While some states have legalized marijuana in recent years, the consequences for marijuana possession in Louisiana remain severe—under state law, repeated convictions for simple possession are punishable by multi-year prison sentences. This report illuminates through quantitative analysis the persistent racial disparities in marijuana policing from 2010 to 2015, and discusses the impacts of statutory and policy reforms the city has implemented to date. Through these findings, the report aims to guide state and local policymakers toward further improvements to lessen the harm even seemingly minor police encounters inflict on black communities, and inspire other jurisdictions to examine their own practices.
Far too many students in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) are being pushed out of school. This is a problemthat is now commonly known as the "school-to-prison pipeline," which occurs when schools rely on punitivediscipline policies to suspend, expel, or refer students to law enforcement. These overly-punitive policies have seriousconsequences. They increase the likelihood of students dropping-out, not graduating, and becoming involvedin the juvenile or criminal justice system. These policies disproportionately impact students of color, students withdisabilities, and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming students. In an effort to begin creating change in Alexandria,we have researched the data and policies in ACPS and written this report, to encourage positive changes thatsupport our youth, rather than criminalize them.This report contains a timeline of our work to implement restorative justice, an analysis of the suspension andreferral to law enforcement data from the 2014-15 school year, and a list of recommendations to end harsh schooldiscipline in ACPS. Out of a sense of urgency for the youth in our community, we call on ACPS to consider the information in this report and fully and immediately commit to proper implementation of restorative justice and an endto the school-to-prison pipeline. We cannot risk the future of our young people while ACPS continues to stall on theimplementation of restorative justice.