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Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Stops

Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Stops: Applying RAND's Framework to Analyze Racial Disparities

Greg Ridgeway
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 92
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  • Book Info
    Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Stops
    Book Description:

    In 2002, the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) joined with other agencies and organizations to improve police-community relations in the city. This report focuses on the analysis of racial disparities in traffic stops in Cincinnati. The authors find no evidence of racial differences between the stops of black and those of similarly situated nonblack drivers, but some issues can exacerbate the perception of racial bias.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4941-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Many police departments nationwide, including the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD), face expensive civil litigation because of high-profile police use-of-force incidents and allegations of patterns of racially biased police practices.

    In Cincinnati, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), dated April 12, 2002, sought to remedy a pattern or practice of conduct by law-enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the U.S. Constitution or federal law (U.S. Department of Justice, City of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Cincinnati Police Department, 2002, paragraph II.1). This agreement followed a 2001 DOJ review...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Is There a Department-Level Racial Pattern in Initiating Vehicle Stops?
    (pp. 9-20)

    There is considerable concern about police racial profiling: Some 69 percent of black Americans say that the police treat them less fairly than whites (Ludwig, 2003), 53 percent of the American public believe that the practice of racial profiling is widespread, and 67 percent say that the practice is never justified (Gallup and Newport, 2006). This public concern about racial profiling has led to massive data-collection efforts to validate or invalidate whether the practice is taking place or, if itistaking place, to what extent.

    Unfortunately, despite all the data collection that has occurred, there is still considerable confusion...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Do Individual Officers Appear to Have Racial Biases in Their Decisions to Stop?
    (pp. 21-30)

    The veil-of-darkness analysis that we conducted and discussed in Chapter Two is intended to determine whether racial bias is a department-wide pattern of practice. As the results showed, when it comes to decisions to stop, we did not find a pattern of racial biasacross CPD as a whole. However, it is still possible that there is racial bias in the decision to stop at the individual officer level. If problems are not CPD-wide, there still could be problems as a result of a few problem officers. In fact, such concerns about a few problem officers are consistent with prior...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Are There Racial Disparities in the Outcomes of Stops?
    (pp. 31-48)

    In the previous two chapters, we used the data on traffic stops from CPD to examine whether there was racial bias in the decision to stop at the department level and at the individual officer level. But once officers have made the decision to stop a motorist, there is also the possibility of racial bias or disparities in what happens after the stop—in the length of the stop, in the rates at which officers cite motorists, and in the way in which they conduct vehicle searches.

    One way to look for the possibility of racial bias after stops is...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusions and Implications
    (pp. 49-50)

    In 2008, RAND researchers completed a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the collaborative agreement on police-community relations in Cincinnati (Ridgeway, Schell, Gifford, et al., 2009). Researchers conducted multiple tasks to assess the impact of that agreement, directly surveying the residents of Cincinnati, analyzing data on interactions between the police and citizens, and documenting the actions and communication quality observed in video recordings of traffic stops.

    When RAND was first engaged to assess progress toward the goals of the collaborative agreement, racial disparities in traffic stops were viewed as key point of concern. As a result, RAND has analyzed data...


    • APPENDIX A Details of the Propensity-Score Weighting Approach
      (pp. 51-52)
    • APPENDIX B Estimating False-Discovery Rates
      (pp. 53-54)
    • APPENDIX C Detailed Tables for Post-Stop Outcomes
      (pp. 55-62)
    • APPENDIX D Comments from the Parties on the Report
      (pp. 63-68)
  15. References
    (pp. 69-74)