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Most police departments in the southcentral region of the United States do not racially represent the communities they serve. This lack of diversity has led some communities to perceive law enforcement as racially biased. The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental, correlational, cross-sectional study was to assess the validity of this perception based upon traffic stop data. Using representative bureaucracy theory, this study examined the traffic stop summary data of four police departments in the southcentral region of the U.S. for 2016-2019. The study aimed to determine if a police department’s racial demographics impacted the stop proportionately to the racial representation of African Americans, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians in the community in which the police department served. A comparative analysis used an independent t-test and a bivariate Pearson correlation test to compare the data. The results indicated that in most cases racial representation, or the lack thereof, within law enforcement impacted the rate at which Africans Americans, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians were stopped. The implications of this study for positive social change are that new policies or practices that can ensure everyone in the community is being treated equally, regardless of the racial demographics of the police department. Diversity within law enforcement is important but just as important is the public’s perception of law enforcement. If law enforcement is perceived as racially biased, policing becomes unmanageable.
Lessard, Danielle Sheree, "Race and Proportionality of Traffic Stops by Four Police Departments in Demographically Distinct Communities." (2021). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 10814.