Deborah Keeling, justice administration professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was the lead researcher. The report was the fourth she has done for LMPD since 2004 but the first released publicly.

            Although some have referred to the report as a racial profiling study, it isn’t, Keeling said. “This is a vehicle stops analysis. No data can determine whether police are engaged in biased policing.”

            Keeling said the traffic-stop study is similar to others done across the United States, although she said there have been few in Kentucky.

            The LMPD stops analyzed were from April 2013 to March 2014 and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year with slightly more in winter.

            Among the drivers stopped, 67 percent were white, 28 percent were black, 3.5 percent were Hispanic, 1 percent were Asian and three-tenths of a percent represented other ethnicities. The race distribution didn’t differ from that in the most recent report done in 2006.

            Most drivers stopped were male, at 63 percent, and were 20-30 years old. Nine percent of the stops resulted in a search.

            Of drivers whose stops resulted in a search, 54 percent were white and 43 percent were black. About 14 percent of stops involving black drivers resulted in a search and 8 percent of stops involving white drivers resulted in a search.

            Most stops led to a citation (60 percent) or warning (37 percent). Stops involving black drivers were less likely to receive a written citation and more likely to receive a verbal warning or result in an arrest than stops involving white and Hispanic drivers for each type of outcome. 

            “Analysis of the nature of stops made by police is just one of a set of six strategies supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and developed by the Police Executive Research Forum as ways agencies can minimize biased policing,” Keeling said. “The points include organizational initiatives such as training, recruitment and accountability. The data analysis is only a small part of this initiative and speaks to an agency’s desire for increased transparency and enhanced community relations.”

Read the study online here

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Judy Hughes
Judy Hughes is a communications and marketing specialist for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she works in media relations and contributes to news about the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and Kent School of Social Work. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.