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Proposed Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Stop Data Analyses Methodology Report

NCJ Number
Geoffrey P. Alpert Ph.D.; Elizabeth Becker Ph.D.; Alan P. Meister Ph.D.; Michael R. Smith Ph.D.; Bruce A. Strombom Ph.D.
Date Published
January 2005
227 pages
This report describes the three methodologies proposed by the Analysis Group to investigate whether racial disparities exist in Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) pedestrian and motor vehicle stop practices.
Three main types of analyses are proposed for evaluating LAPD pedestrian and motor vehicle stop practices: (1) an external benchmark study of pedestrian stops; (2) a post-stop activity study; and (3) an internal benchmark study (officer-to-officer comparisons) of pedestrian and motor vehicle stop and post-stop activity. The first analysis, the external benchmark study of pedestrian stops, will explore whether racial disparities exist in stop rates after controlling for other legitimate factors affecting stop activities, such as officer deployment and gang activity. The second analysis, the study of post-stop activity will examine whether different demographic groups based on race, age, and gender receive disproportionate sanctions or other burdens, such as searches, following a stop. The post-stop activity study will control for other factors that may affect police decisionmaking following a stop, such as various characteristics of the encounter and the geographic area. The third analysis proposes to compare the racial composition of stops by particular officers or group of officers with the racial stop composition of all other officers in the same area during the same time period. The analysis will bring to light officer stop patterns that warrant closer review. Each of the methodologies will offer a distinct perspective of LAPD pedestrian and motor vehicle stop practices. Limitations of the methodologies are considered and include the fact that statistical analyses cannot fully account for all factors that might affect officers’ stop and post-stop activities and cannot provide an assessment of officers’ discriminatory intent. Tables, footnotes, references, appendixes