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Officer Gender and Traffic Ticket Decisions: Police Blue or Women Too?

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2009 Pages: 342-352
Richard J. Lundman
Date Published
August 2009
11 pages
This study examined whether women and men officers in the Boston Police Department differed in patterns of decisionmaking in issuing traffic tickets during April and May of 2001.
The findings show that the decisions of women and men officers were indistinguishable regarding the frequency with which traffic tickets were issued. With one exception, they were also indistinguishable in the factors that affected their decisions. The one exception was that women police were significantly less likely to ticket in-State, out-of-city drivers compared to male officers. The factors on which male and female officers did not differ in decisionmaking were neighborhood distress; in-city residence; commercial license; officer experience; officer of color; and driver social class, age, driver of color, and driver gender. Of the 166,368 traffic-ticket decisions reported by police officers statewide in Massachusetts during April and May of 2001, 19,628 were reported by the women and men officers of the Boston Police Department. Of these, 17,465 had complete information on all of the measures considered in this study. Past research has determined that formal police actions such as making traffic stops and issuing traffic tickets are influenced by legal and extralegal factors. The current research controlled for some of the most important of these factors so as to isolate the possible effects of officer gender. 4 tables, 3 notes, and 134 references