Latest in Culture

Image credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Big data shows racial bias in police behavior

Stanford's data shows that Oakland police officers haven't treated everyone fairly.
476 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Stanford University just delivered further proof that massive, readily available data sets can solve tricky law enforcement problems. School researchers combing through a mix of 28,119 Oakland Police Department stop reports, officer body camera footage and community surveys have learned that there are "significant" racial biases at play. OPD officers are not only more likely to stop a black person, but far more likely to conduct searches of black people, even though they weren't any more likely to find something incriminating. Officers more frequently handcuffed black people without arresting them, too. And the pattern is the same regardless of the crime rate in a given region.

The dialogue from the body cameras has its own share of insights. Officers more often brought up the subject of parole or probation when stopping black people. However, they were far more likely to mention the reason for a stop to a white person.

Stanford is quick to mention that these gaps in treatment shrink with experience (veterans are less likely to cuff someone without an arrest). It also stresses that there isn't hard evidence of conscious, overt racism. The police may not be intentionally treating black people differently, but there is an "institutional problem" that leads to unfair treatment.

The good news? Stanford conducted this data study in tandem with the OPD, and it's implementing the university's recommendations. That includes improving how the department collects and studies data, making that data more accessible and using body camera footage for audits and training. As you'd hope, the force is also educating officers to both minimize bias and identify troublemakers. These solutions won't apply everywhere and certainly aren't guaranteed to end racism in law enforcement, but the very hint of progress suggests that the data collection was worthwhile.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
476 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

View
Chicago will test Samsung's DeX in-vehicle solution in cop cars

Chicago will test Samsung's DeX in-vehicle solution in cop cars

View
Apple warns against storing its titanium credit card in leather

Apple warns against storing its titanium credit card in leather

View
Microsoft tests more control for apps that restart with Windows 10

Microsoft tests more control for apps that restart with Windows 10

View
Terminator T-800 and The Joker are coming to 'Mortal Kombat 11'

Terminator T-800 and The Joker are coming to 'Mortal Kombat 11'

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr