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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Black and Blue: Exploring Racial Bias and Law Enforcement in the Killings of Unarmed Black Male Civilians

April 1, 2016

In late 2014, a series of highly publicized police killings of unarmed Black male civilians in the United States prompted large-scale social turmoil. In the current review, we dissect the psychological antecedents of the se killings and explain how the nature of police work may attract officers with distinct characteristics that may make them especially well-primed for negative interactions with Black male civilians. We use media reports to contextualize the precipitating events of the social unrest as we ground our explanations in theory and empirical research from social psychology and industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology. To isolate some of the key mechanisms at play, we disentangle racial bias (e.g., stereotyping processes) from common characteristics of law enforcement agents (e.g., social dominance orientation), while also addressing the interaction between racial bias and policing. By separating the moving parts of the phenomenon, we provide a more fine-grained analysis of the factors that may have contributed to the killings. In doing so, we endeavor to more effectively identify and develop solutions to eradicate excessive use of force during interactions between "Black" (unarmed Black male civilians) and "Blue" (law enforcement).

Racial Bias & Profiling; Use of Force

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