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Police Behavior During Traffic and Street Stops, 2011

NCJ Number
Lynn Langton, Ph.D.; Matthew Durose
Date Published
September 2013
22 pages
This report from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) presents information on police behavior during traffic and street stops for fiscal year 2011.

Examines the characteristics and experiences of persons age 16 or older who were stopped by police during traffic and street stops, and their perceptions of police behavior and response during these encounters. It describes the outcomes of traffic and street stops by the reason for the stop; demographic characteristics of the persons stopped; race or Hispanic origin of the officers; and whether a ticket was issued, a search was conducted, or force was used. It also describes variations in perceptions of the police across characteristics and outcomes of traffic and street stops. Data are from the 2011 Police-Public Contact Survey, a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons in U.S. households on contact with police during a 12-month period.  This is a companion report to Requests for Police Assistance, 2011

  • Relatively more black drivers (13%) than white (10%) and Hispanic (10%) drivers were pulled over in a traffic stop during their most recent contact with police. There were no statistical differences in the race or Hispanic origin of persons involved in street stops.
  • Drivers pulled over by an officer of the same race or ethnicity were more likely (83%) than drivers pulled over by an officer of a different race or ethnicity (74%) to believe that the reason for the traffic stop was legitimate.
  • White drivers were both ticketed and searched at lower rates than black and Hispanic drivers.
  • About 1% of drivers pulled over in traffic stops had physical force used against them by police. Of these drivers, 55% believed the police behaved properly during the stop.