Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I encountered an article arguing for racial profiling on, among other grounds, the following: Minority drivers are significantly more likely to be pulled over at night.  (The difference is apparently more pronounced at night than during the day.)

...I'll wait for a moment while that processes.

Minority drivers are most likely to be pulled over when it is least obvious that they are a minority.  Setting aside one person arguing that police use military infrared binoculars (really?) to target minorities, this strikes me as a very interesting bit of information.

I'd like some real statistics on the matter, however, rather than taking an unsourced article at its word (even if it is using the data to argue the opposite point I would make).  Anybody encounter statistics like this?

I'd love to get my hands on some raw data including vehicle models, as well.  (Gang activity in a five mile radius of the ticket location would be too good to be true.)

In case it weren't obscenely obvious enough, this article piqued my interest on the matter of racial profiling, and I'm considering doing some work to see if the data supports the theory of racial profiling as neatly as it is represented to do so.

My suspicions are that, if you isolate the variables, there's actually going to be a substantial negative racial profiling mechanism at work, as a result of police sensitivity to racial profiling and the fact that non-racial profiling - targeting high-crime neighborhoods and certain vehicle makes/models - produces nontrivial racial bias in the data.  I base my suspicion on the belief that racial profiling in addition to nonracial criteria should produce substantially greater divergences in traffic stops and penalties for minority drivers than is actually the case.

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