Race, Ethnicity, and Policing: New and Essential Readings

By Stephen K. Rice; Michael D. White Roberts | Go to book overview

Introduction to Part IV

Stephen K. Rice

Two goals of Race, Ethnicity, and Policing have been to outline the multidisciplinary theoretical foundations of the study of race, ethnicity, and policing and to provide heuristics for the empirical assessment of a relationship (the police/minority community) which has faced great challenge. The final section in the volume, “The Future,” attempts to offer a way forward by examining the experiences of previously understudied populations (e.g., Hispanics/Latinos, immigrants, Muslim Americans), specifying innovative analytical strategies (e.g., coupling neighborhood context with spatial dynamics), offering alternatives to actuarial (predictive) methods in policing, and outlining how police departments can stem future incidents of racially and ethnically biased policing through the realization of the democratic ideals of accountability, transparency, and fairness.

In the section's first chapter, Stults and colleagues offer the first known examination of the role of spatial dynamics and neighborhood characteristics on police stop rates, and do so by incorporating the experiences of not only white and black motorists but also those of Hispanics—an underdeveloped area of focus (see Martínez, Weitzer, this volume). Utilizing census data and information to include crime reports, officers' demographic and behavioral indicators, and police-citizen contacts from the Miami-Dade Police Department (e.g., driver race and residence, reasons for stops, geo-coding of stops), the authors set out to assess macro-level, structural predictors of stops (e.g., racial composition, disadvantage, social disorder), to understand the spatial clustering of stops in relation to neighborhood characteristics, and to explore the influence of nearby (proximate) areas on the potential for police-citizen interactions in Miami-Dade communities. The study includes several major findings. In possible support of the racial threat hypothesis (i.e., formal social control being mobilized against minority groups when such groups come to be seen as threats to majority interests), the rate of black stops were found to increase in areas with higher percentages of whites, while rates of white and Hispanic stops decreased. With regard to this clustering, Stults and colleagues proffer, “This pattern may well be the result of formal social control being implemented in the form of police stops when blacks travel to white neighborhoods.” Consistent with this trend, black stop rates were also found to be low in areas where the white population was low. With regard to the intriguing finding of reduced stop rates for Hispanics in areas with sizable percentages

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