Do Police Maximize Arrests or Minimize Crime? Evidence from Racial Profiling in U.S. Cities

50 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2018 Last revised: 19 May 2020

See all articles by Allison Stashko

Allison Stashko

Georgetown University - Department of Economics, Students

Date Written: May 1, 2018

Abstract

It is difficult to know if racial discrepancies in police stop and search data are caused by racial bias or statistical discrimination. In part, this is due to uncertainty over the benchmark of unbiased police behavior: do officers aim to maximize arrests or to minimize crime? In this paper, I compare models of the two police objectives to data from U.S. cities. Empirical evidence is consistent with a model of arrest maximization and inconsistent with a model of crime minimization. These findings support the validity of existing tests for racial bias that rely on the assumption that police maximize arrests.

Keywords: Law Enforcement, Discrimination, Racial Profiling

JEL Classification: K42, J15, H72

Suggested Citation

Stashko, Allison, Do Police Maximize Arrests or Minimize Crime? Evidence from Racial Profiling in U.S. Cities (May 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3132046 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3132046

Allison Stashko (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

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