Does it Matter Where? Evaluating the Spatial Heterogeneity of Police Post-Stop Enforcement

Scholars know relatively little about how the location of a pedestrian police stop affects the racial distribution of post-stop outcomes, including the initiation of a search or a field interview. To address this gap, this research draws on a unique data set from San Jose, California, and underutili...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Chanin, Joshua (Author)
Contributors: Gibbons, Joseph ; Appleyard, Bruce
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2024
In: Criminology, criminal justice, law & society
Year: 2024, Volume: 25, Issue: 1, Pages: 9-28
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Summary:Scholars know relatively little about how the location of a pedestrian police stop affects the racial distribution of post-stop outcomes, including the initiation of a search or a field interview. To address this gap, this research draws on a unique data set from San Jose, California, and underutilized spatial methods to examine the extent to which conflict theory explains post-stop enforcement patterns. We consider two iterations of the theory: (1) the racial threat hypothesis, which posits that Blacks and Hispanics are more aggressively policed in minority neighborhoods, and (2) the racial incongruity hypothesis, which holds that police tend to target minorities occupying concentrated White spaces. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) models indicate that Blacks and Hispanics face more aggressive post-stop enforcement than Whites but that stop location is not predictive. By contrast, geographically weighted regression (GWR) analysis shows that police are more likely to initiate searches and field interviews of Blacks and Hispanics in areas with high concentrations of White and minority residents. These findings illustrate the nuanced relationship between stop location, pedestrian race, and police behavior. Conflict theory is a valuable lens through which to view post-stop enforcement, yet evidence to support the minority threat and racial incongruity hypotheses was only visible at the micro level. This research adds to existing scholarship by demonstrating the utility of GWR in teasing out the nuanced, micro-level relationship between stop location and pedestrian race not captured in more traditional models.
ISSN:2332-886X
DOI:10.54555/ccjls.10194.115912