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NCJ Number: 222531 Find in a Library
Title: Hit Rates Test for Racial Bias in Motor-Vehicle Searches
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:25  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:37-53
Author(s): Nicola Persico; Petra E. Todd
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 17
Type: Case Study; Measurement/Evaluation Device
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper argues for the effectiveness of a rational choice model of police-motorist interaction (Knowles, Persico, and Todd, 2001) based on the success rate of searches, and it provides supporting empirical evidence based on Maryland policing data.
Abstract: In unbiased vehicle stops/searches, police react to certain characteristics of drivers, vehicles, driving patterns, and other observable factors that they believe (either from training or experience) are likely to yield evidence of drug trafficking or other offenses. In racially biased vehicle stop/searches, the biased officer is responding only to the observable race/ethnicity of the driver either to harass him/her or because the officer believes race/ethnicity alone is sufficient probable cause to believe evidence of a crime is present in the vehicle. The latter bigoted reasons for the stop are most likely to be exposed if a given officer or agency officers in general have a disproportionately low rate of "hits" in finding evidence in stopped cars driven by racial/ethnic minorities. This finding not only exposes the ineffectiveness of these stops but also suggests that officers are engaged in racially biased stops. In order to illustrate the effectiveness of this model, the authors report on the result of applying the model to data collected as a result of the settlement agreement in Wilkins v. Maryland State Police. The settlement included the formulation of a statement by the police renouncing racial profiling, and the collection of the data presented in this report. The data show that although 63 percent of the stopped drivers were African-American, the rate at which drug evidence was found in the stopped cars was almost the same for White and Black drivers (32 percent and 34 percent, respectively). 3 figures, 2 tables and 8 references
Main Term(s): Maryland; Profiling; Vehicle stops
Index Term(s): Criminology; Mathematical modeling; Police discretion; Racial discrimination; Stop and frisk
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