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Monkey Cage: Pulled over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship


This is from my review of Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, a new book by public policy researchers Charles Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Harkel:

Fifteen years ago I was contacted by Jeff Fagan, a professor of public health at Columbia University, about a project he was working on with the New York State Attorney General’s office, studying the rate of police stops of whites, blacks, and Hispanics in New York City. Police records revealed that ethnic minorities were being stopped at a much greater rate than whites. Defenders of the system argued that the patterns of stops represented a reasonable set of choices given the information available to police. As Howard Safir, the police commissioner at the time, stated, “The racial/ethnic distribution of the subjects of ‘stop and frisk’ reports reflects the demographics of known violent crime suspects as reported by crime victims. Similarly, the demographics of arrestees in violent crimes also correspond with the demographics of known violent crime suspects.” This seemed implausible, though, given that minorities were stopped much more often than whites, even if the baseline being used was not population but rather their rates of arrests in the previous year.
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