CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Legewie on Racial Profiling in Stop-and-Frisk Operations

Joscha Legewie (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)) has posted Racial Profiling in Stop-and-Frisk Operations: How Local Events Trigger Periods of Increased Discrimination on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Racial profiling and the excessive use of police force are divisive political issues with severe consequences for its victims and society at large. However, it is difficult to identify racial bias in observational studies and the causes of improper use of force are not well understood. Based on four natural experiments in New York City, this study shows that violence against police officers can lead to periods of disproportionate use of police force against racial minorities. Using data from 3.9 million time and geo-coded pedestrians stops, the findings show that, relative to similar stops before two fatal shootings of NYPD police officers by black suspects in 2007 and 2011, the use of physical force by police officers against blacks increased substantially in the days after the shootings. The use of force against whites and Hispanics, however, remained unchanged and there is no evidence for an effect of two other police murders by a white and Hispanic suspect. The race-specific pattern indicates that the events function as racial cues that temporarily exacerbate racial bias. Aside from the importance for the debate on racial profiling, this research proposes an event-centered study of discrimination, extending the focus of prior work from where discrimination takes place to when it happens.

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