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Stanford study uses big data to highlight racial biases in policing

The study is an ongoing, open sourced project.
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Susan Chiang

A group at Stanford University has taken on the issue of racial bias in law enforcement with an ongoing study called the Open Policing Project. The researchers have also created a website that makes not only their findings available, but all of their data and analysis coding as well.

The project began a couple of years ago. Interested in figuring out what role racial bias plays in everyday traffic stops, the research team, made up of scientists and journalists, began collecting records of traffic and pedestrian stops from law enforcement agencies in every state. As of now, they've analyzed -- and made available -- data from 31 state police agencies, which includes 130 million records.

From this data, the group found that after being stopped, black and Hispanic drivers are searched, ticketed and arrested more frequently than white drivers. Black and Hispanic drivers are 20 percent and 30 percent more likely to be ticketed than white drivers, respectively. And compared to white drivers, black and Hispanic drivers are searched based on less evidence -- a finding calculated from both search rates and how often police actually found contraband during a search.

The researchers are continuing to collect data and have begun to look at records from major cities. You can access their findings and all of their data on the project's website and you can watch the video below for more information on the research.

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