Date of Conferral
To address the primary problem of racial profiling by police, many states have passed legislation that require police departments to collect demographic data on those with whom the officer comes into contact; these data are later evaluated by supervisors. The problem lies in the possibility for police officers to disengage, or depolice, when faced with data collection policies that may be viewed as lessening the officer's discretion. It was this potential to depolice as related to policy interpretation that formed the conceptual framework for this study. As a result, implementation of racial profiling policies may negatively impact the very minorities they are designed to protect. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify and analyze the possible correlationship between statutory racial data tracking, the frequency of racial profiling discussion, the officer's time in policing, and history of disciplinary procedures for violating profiling policy in the decision to either stop or not stop a motorist when the race of that motorist is observed to be that of a racial and ethnic minority. A forward stepwise logistic regression was utilized to analyze data collected from a sample of 176 police officers in the Midwest recruited through police organizational contacts. The results showed the only significant predictor in a police officer's decision to stop or not stop a minority motorist was the presence of a state statute requiring the collection of racial profiling data. This information can be useful to administrators and policy makers in addressing allegations of racial profiling. Understanding the influence of mandated racial profiling data collection policies on police officer behavior offers potential explanation when analyzing individual officer minority contact ratios, and may prompt policy revision to effect equal treatment of all citizens regardless of race or ethnicity.