The Impact of Race on Policing, Arrest Patterns, and Crime
John J. Donohue III
Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Steven D. Levitt
University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation
Stanford Law School, John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics, Working Paper No. 168
Race has long been recognized as playing a critical role in policing. In spite of this awareness, there has been virtually no previous research attempting to quantitatively analyze the issue. In this paper, we examine the relationship between the racial composition of a city's police force and the racial patterns of arrests and crime. Increases in the number of minority police are associated with significant increases in arrests of whites, but have little impact on arrests of non-whites. Similarly, more white police increase the number of arrests of non-whites, but do not systematically affect the number of white arrests. The race of police officers has a less clear-cut impact on crime rates. It appears that own-race policing may be more effective in reducing property crime, but no systematic differences are observed for violent crime. These results are consistent either with own-race policing leading to fewer false arrests or greater deterrence. In either case, own-race policing appears more "efficient" in fighting property crime.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
JEL Classification: K42, J78
Date posted: March 21, 2000
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