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Race, Ethnicity, and PolicingNew and Essential Readings$
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Stephen K. Rice and Michael D. White

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814776155

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814776155.001.0001

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Community Characteristics and Police Search Rates

Community Characteristics and Police Search Rates

Accounting for the Ethnic Diversity of Urban Areas in the Study of Black, White, and Hispanic Searches

(p.349) Chapter 14 Community Characteristics and Police Search Rates
Race, Ethnicity, and Policing

Karen F. Parker

Erin C. Lane

Geoffrey P. Alpert

NYU Press

This chapter examines the impact of community-level indicators on police search decisions in traffic stops involving White, Black, and Hispanic motorists using data from more than sixty-one thousand traffic stops in Miami-Dade County. In particular, it explores the impact of increased ethnic diversity, concentrated disadvantage, and residential characteristics on search decisions by police while controlling for other legal and extra-legal factors that influence police behavior. The results reveal that community-level characteristics such as concentrated disadvantage are significant predictors of increased search rates for whites and Hispanics, but not for blacks. This finding may reflect a benign-neglect argument whereby the high levels of disadvantage and isolation in black neighborhoods make these areas less threatening. Growth in the Hispanic immigrant population did not influence search rates, while an increase in foreign born residents led to decreased search rates.

Keywords:   community-level indicators, police search decisions, traffic stops, White, Black, Hispanic, Miami-Dade County, ethnic diversity, police behavior

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