A New Test for Racial Profiling on Automobile Stops

Principal Investigator(s):

Joseph Ritter, Professor, Applied Economics

Project summary:

Do police officers stop minority drivers more often than is warranted by their behavior? A 2003 analysis of traffic stops by Minneapolis Police in 2002 concluded this to be the case. That study, jointly conducted by the Council on Crime and Justice and the Institute on Race and Poverty, concluded that such racial profiling existed, but others have argued that the study lacked statistical rigor. Since then, a new statistical test created by Jeffrey Grogger and Greg Ridgeway and called the "veil of darkness" has been developed that differentiates between daytime and nighttime stops. This distinction is important because it is much more difficult for police to determine the race of the driver at night. A professor of Applied Economics, supported by a New Initiatives grant from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), re-analyzed the 2002 Minneapolis data and confirmed the earlier analysis of racial profiling. Results were published in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of the CURA Reporter.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2009098
  • Start date: 07/2008
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy