The Police or the Public? 911 Calls and Racial Discriminations in Policing

A large proportion of police-citizen interactions are initiated by 911, and thus pairing 911 call data with police stop data provides a step toward a more systematic causal framework for estimating racial bias. We apply our proposed framework to data of more than 22 million 911 call records and more than 400,000 police stop records in three major American cities: New York, Seattle, and New Orleans. We find that 911- reported Black and Hispanic citizens in New York and Seattle are more likely to face policing actions than reported white citizens. In New Orleans, however, 911-reported white citizens appear more likely to face policing actions, potentially due to reporting bias against minority citizens. In addition, our framework explicitly incorporates crime into a model of bias in policing and builds a framework capable of evaluating bias at various stages of the criminal justice process and other multi-stage processes.

MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
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