How Do We Improve?

There are no easy answers to how to reduce the racial disparity of stops. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts heard arguments recently in a case involving a police stop in 2017 that raises questions about racial bias.

MassLive discusses the following question:  Is “reasonable suspicion” triggered differently with black suspects and white ones?

This is a nationwide problem as illustrated by a very recent analysis in California that found  black motorists  are stopped by police at significantly higher rates than their white or Latino counterparts, a state audit reveals. View an article on this issue from the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Part of the problem arguably is it is very difficult to get reliable data.  For example a Stanford University  project — Law, Order & Algorithms — has found that even though a little more than half the states, 31, routinely collect data on race (based on officer perception), the way it’s collected is far from uniform.

Even where data exist, some states have not analyzed it. Even fewer states make the information available for public review.

In Nevada, officers record the driver’s race only if they issue a ticket or make an arrest. In South Carolina, officers note a driver’s race only when the driver is not ticketed or arrested. Georgia has a spot on its traffic warning forms for race, but not on its tickets. Even then, troopers aren’t required to fill it in. At least three states collect information but don’t compile the data or analyze it. Maine, for example, collects the information on paper only.

In the rest of country, 15 states either did not respond or did not say whether, or how, any data were collected. Four states said they did not track the race of drivers they stop at all. In one of those, Louisiana, the state police said it was “not required to maintain such information because we have a written policy against racial profiling.”

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