We thank Janet Lauritsen and Donald Black, along with the anonymous reviewers, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Direct correspondence to Jeff Rojek, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, 1305 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29208 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
POLICING RACE: THE RACIAL STRATIFICATION OF SEARCHES IN POLICE TRAFFIC STOPS*
Article first published online: 5 AUG 2012
© 2012 American Society of Criminology
Volume 50, Issue 4, pages 993–1024, November 2012
How to Cite
ROJEK, J., ROSENFELD, R. and DECKER, S. (2012), POLICING RACE: THE RACIAL STRATIFICATION OF SEARCHES IN POLICE TRAFFIC STOPS. Criminology, 50: 993–1024. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2012.00285.x
- Issue published online: 30 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 5 AUG 2012
- traffic stops;
- racial stratification
Research on race effects in police traffic stops is theoretically underdeveloped. In this study, we derive propositions from Donald Black's theory of law to explain the interaction effects of officer and driver race on searches in traffic stops in St. Louis, Missouri. Our citywide results and those for stops in predominantly White communities are generally consistent with the theory: Searches are more likely in stops of Black drivers than in those of White drivers, especially by White officers, controlling for other characteristics of the officer, driver, and stop. In predominantly Black communities, however, stops of White drivers by White officers are most likely to result in a search. We interpret both sets of results as manifestations of racial profiling in segregated communities and suggest that Black's theory of law remains a promising theoretical framework for future research on the continuing significance of race-based policing in the United States.