Home / WSSN Stories (page 6)

WSSN Stories

Stanford Researchers Develop New Statistical Test That Shows Racial Profiling In Police Traffic Stops

By Edmund Andrews

By analyzing data from 4.5 million traffic stops in 100 North Carolina cities, Stanford researchers have found that police in that state are more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists, using a lower threshold of suspicion, than when they stop white or Asian drivers.

The empirical study found that while blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be searched, those more numerous searches are less likely to uncover illegal drugs or weapons than searches of vehicles with white or Asian drivers.

Studies based on the incidence of searches by race, and the outcomes of those searches, have been done in the past, forming the basis for concerns about racial profiling by police.

But the Stanford team – graduate students Camelia Simoiu and Sam Corbett-Davies, and assistant professor of management science and engineeringSharad Goel – developed a third, entirely new measurement called a threshold test.

The researchers show that this new measure offers a statistically rigorous way to quantify how suspicious officers were to initiate a search. For example, did officers conduct searches when there was a 15 percent probability of finding weapons or drugs, or was a 5 percent inkling enough? They correlated these threshold assessments to the race or ethnicity of the subjects across the entire dataset of 4.5 million motor vehicle stops.

“Our threshold test suggests that officers apply a double standard when deciding whom to search, with black and Hispanic drivers searched on the basis of less evidence than whites and Asians,” said Simoiu, adding, “We consistently observe this pattern of behavior across the largest 100 police departments in the state.”

The study marks a new milestone in Stanford’s Project on Law, Order and Algorithms, which has already collected data on 50 million traffic stops in 11 states and is aiming to expand the database to 100 million stops from at least 30 states and every region of the Unites States. The purpose of the database, which the researchers plan to make publicly available, is to shed light on the prevalence of racial profiling and to identify techniques for improving police practices.

In the case of North Carolina, the researchers obtained records for traffic stops in the state from 2009 through 2014. The records included information about the ethnicity, age and gender of the people being pulled over and at least some information on the rationale of police officers for searching particular people and vehicles.

Racial differences

Until now, analysts have used two fairly simple statistical tests to look for patterns of racial profiling.

The first test, known as benchmarking, involves comparing search rates for people of different ethnicities. If blacks account for 10 percent of the local population but 30 percent of searches, that higher incidence would be evidence of discrimination. A second test examines the “hit” rate or outcome – the percentage of searches that actually lead to the discovery of weapons, drugs or other illegal contraband.

In North Carolina, both statistical tests provided strong evidence of unfounded racial discrimination. Police searched 5.4 percent of blacks and 4.1 percent of the Hispanics they pulled over, but only 3.1 percent of whites. In many cities and towns, however, searches of blacks and Hispanics were actually less likely to uncover contraband than searches of whites.

But even when both tests converge, this analysis has limitations. If a higher percentage of people in one ethnic group actually do carry illegal drugs or weapons, for example, a higher search rate for that group may not reflect racial discrimination.

So the Stanford researchers went further than prior studies to get a more accurate view of the presence or absence of unfounded discrimination.

They did this by developing a complex statistical tool they call a threshold test. It analyzed four variables for each of the 4.5 million stops:

  • Race of the driver
  • Department of the officer making the stop
  • Whether the stop resulted in a search – and, if a search occurred,
  • Whether it turned up drugs, guns or other contraband

These four variables provided a statistical snapshot of an officer’s threshold of suspicion before searching a person of a given race. As the authors wrote: “In nearly every one of the 100 departments we consider, we find that black and Hispanic drivers are subjected to a lower search threshold than whites, suggestive of widespread discrimination against these groups.”

Specifically, the study found that police decided to search black drivers based on a 7 percent certainty that they might be hiding something illegal. If an African American driver looks nervous, for example, police might interpret the nervousness as a sign of possible guilt and insist on a search.

For Hispanics, the search threshold was 6 percent certainty. But police in these 100 North Carolina cities wanted a 15 percent certainty before searching the vehicles of white drivers. The threshold for searching Asians was about the same as for whites.

Suspicions and searches

The finding has important implications, the researchers noted.

Had North Carolina’s police applied the same standard of suspicion to blacks as whites, the researchers estimate that they would have searched 30 percent fewer black drivers – about 30,000 people over the six years they study. Hispanics would have experienced a 50 percent reduction in searches affecting 8,000 drivers.

But while the new test reveals that the threshold of suspicion varies by race, the authors note a caveat.

“We cannot, however, definitively conclude that the disparities we see stem from racial bias,” they wrote. “For example, officers might instead be applying lower search thresholds to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, a demographic that is disproportionately black and Hispanic.”

The Stanford researchers are collecting traffic stop data from other states to see what patterns are revealed by their analyses. They are also considering ways to apply their new statistical methods to other settings where race or ethnicity may be a factor, such as mortgage lending and hiring.

“We hope our results spur further investigation into allegations of police discrimination, and help improve public policy,” Goel said.

 

What it do with LUE: BJ, Founder of The Garage Dance Studio

BJ, founder of The Garage Dance Studio

BJ, founder of The Garage Dance Studio

Do you like to dance? Do you like to move? This week BJ, founder of The Garage Dance Studio, is What It Do! Living in an urban community with many talented youth, I am so happy that a positive individual like BJ is giving back. What a breath of fresh air for our youth. Not everyone sings, raps, or plays an instrument; some simply dance! With that being said here’s more about the choreographer they call BJ.

As a young child growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, BJ sat in front of his parent’s TV set constantly mimicking dance moves from artists such as Michael Jackson. He eventually received a chance to perform in front of crowds of people. From family parties, to dance competitions, and dance studios, the talented dancer impressed the public with his street choreography. Watching artists and dancers perform moves motivated him to dance and get better. By his teenage years, BJ realized that dancing could be something to pursue, so he kept going.

BJ was introduced to the dance world when he began touring doing background dancing for upcoming artists and other dance crews in need of extras. His first tour was back in 2000 and from there he has been addicted to the popularity.

He continued to push fourth and was added to a popular tour called “Scream tour” with artists that included as Bow Wow, B2K, and other big names. BJ soon began to make a name for myself in the Dance community when he was a part of the Dance show called “Dance 360,” which aired on UPN where he was called out to battle amongst five other people and won.

With his journey and experience in dance, BJ believes that if he ever had the opportunity to open his very own dance studio he would in a heartbeat and that is exactly what happened. This dude turned his mother’s garage into a mini dance studio and name it “The Garage Dance Studio.”

“Knowing that there is no source of entertainment or dance here in the Lost City a.k. Colton, California motivated me to open the dance studio,” BJ states.“For me being a dance lover, I wanted to open the facility to give youth the opportunity to come and learn dance. A lot of these kids don’t have the means to go to LA. I figured why not give it a shot and open something for them. With over seventeen years of professional experience under my belt, I provide lots of variety to students. My dance instruction involves a mixture of hip-hop, pop, and old-school dance styles.”

“All in all, I feel like I have lived up to my childhood dream by becoming a hardworking, successful dancer and I will continue to push fourth until I reach the top. There are lots of things that I have to still accomplish until I past that bridge. I will continue to bless others with my gift of dance.”

 Make sure you support this young man and his efforts. Remember to make the world your DANCE FLOOR. L’z!

 

“Payback is a Mother….!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!  Take God’s grace for granted if you want too! SUDDEN DESTRUCTION will come upon you so fast that it will have your head spinning.  God will not allow you to become complacent or neglectful concerning Him. He will not allow you to take Him for granted. Beware of taking God’s grace for granted! He does not take it lightly.  When God learnt of what Israel had done to His servants; when He learnt of how Israel had over and over again, betrayed His love and taken His grace for granted, God became furious. His patience had been tested by His very own people – Israel. And so God’s wrath came upon Israel. God used the Roman armies to destroy Israel and its Temple. “What shall you say then? Shall you continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid….”— [Rom. 6:1-2; 15-16]

Listen, God is NOT SLACK! We MUST understand that! And He says that He does not want ANY of us to perish, but that we should ALL come to REPENTANCE! And that is what this message is all about. Today, I plead with you, in love for your soul, not to be foolish, but to be wise, to consider your “latter end,” and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior.  I want you to know that God is stirring up His Spirit in a few who are awake to the call to REPENT AND AWAKEN. We know that time is short, and we have remembered what Christ taught us through His Word and through all of His apostles, including His end time apostle. Those of us who are awake know that time is URGENT. We see the sword and we are heeding God’s instruction to WARN! “Again the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying….. Speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, when I bring the sword upon a land … when the watchman see the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whosever hear the sound of the trumpet, and take not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. But he that takes warning shall deliver his soul. So I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me…” [Ezekiel 33:1-4]

The Trumpet is sounding…… who will hear? Consider these Scriptures [Leviticus 26] and [Deuteronomy28], the “blessings and cursing” chapters of the Bible; in light of what you have just read: the increasing pressure that God applies in order to draw us closer to Him and to stop taking Him for granted. See how these curses are increasingly intensified each time Israel failed to repent of neglecting of God. What tragic results complacency toward God reaps! I tell you the Holy Spirit cries out for you who are Christians to take your Christian faith seriously, not to neglect it, not to take it for granted, and certainly not to despise it. You have been called out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. You have been baptized into Christ and called out of Satan’s kingdom and into the kingdom of Christ. But you’re not home free until you’re home; you have been shown wondrous grace. But you also have a warning from God in the pages of the Holy Scripture that you do well to heed, never to take His grace for granted. If only Israel had heeded this warning given by Christ. But, just like their forefathers who left Egypt with Moses, they took God’s grace to them for granted. Don’t let that be said about you!

You may assume that since you were once called to faith and baptized, you don’t need a living and active faith in Christ; you don’t need to hear His Word and receive His Sacraments as much as other people do. You may assume that since you have worked so hard to live a good and decent life, you now deserve God’s grace and recognition more than someone else does. Don’t be deceived! Satan will try to lead you to such false assumptions, to take God’s grace for granted and to imagine that you’ve earned His favor and deserve His goodness. But such wickedness drives out faith and the Holy Spirit and threatens to make your outcome like that of Israel. Payback is a Mother….. To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear?