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Course Catalog

Accurate Traffic Stop Data Collection: Biased-Based Policing Reports


  • Dr. Richard Johnson
    Chief Academic Officer

In response to CALEA accreditation requirements and / or public allegations of racial profiling, many law enforcement agencies have begun to track the race, ethnicity, and gender of those who are stopped, searched, arrested, and / or were the subject of a use of force by officers.

If not researched and written properly, these reports have the potential to be misinterpreted by the media or community groups, needlessly damage the public image of your agency, undermine the legitimacy of your agency with the public, and lower officer morale. This workshop offers crucial skills necessary to present the information in your report in a manner that minimizes the risk of misinterpretation or manipulation, and presents the work of your agency in the most accurate and professionally responsive manner possible.

This workshop addresses critical reporting issues, such as: the best order in which the collected information should presented, how and why data should be reported by beats and units rather than agency-wide, separating pro-active and reactive officer activity, finding and using valid benchmark comparisons, and understanding the disproportionality index.  

Course Outline

  • The Issue of Biased-Based Policing
    • Public perceptions
    • Repercussions for police legitimacy
    • Legal repercussions for police agencies
  • Types of Bias-Based Policing Studies and Reports
    • Types of mandates for reporting
    • Types of information to report
    • External versus internal evaluations
  • The Best Way to Organize Your Report
    • Overall agency response to ethics and fairness
    • Overall agency efforts toward diversity and inclusion
    • Stop data is only a part of the report
  • Understanding the Disproportionality Index
    • What is it?
    • How is it calculated?
    • What does it mean?
  • Comparing Apples to Apples
    • Reporting data by district rather than agency-wide
    • Reporting special unit data separately
    • Separating proactive and reactive activities
  • Finding the Proper Valid Benchmark
    • The numerous problems with using Census statistics
    • Understanding how the wrong benchmark hurts the entire study
    • Ensuring the benchmark matches the activity targeted police activity
  • The Importance of Data Validity
    • Importance of officer buy-in and training
    • Importance of data collection instruments
    • The potential sources of invalid data
  • Internal Benchmarking
    • How to truly detect biased policing among the ranks
    • Comparing officers against their peers
    • Ruling out legitimate reasons for disparities
  • How to Get Help
    • Sources of technical assistance
    • Screening outside researchers
    • Developing in-house expertise

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