A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing

107 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2020

See all articles by Felipe Goncalves

Felipe Goncalves

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics

Steven Mello

Dartmouth College

Date Written: June 15, 2020

Abstract

We estimate the degree to which individual police officers practice racial discrimination. Using a bunching estimation design and data from the Florida Highway Patrol, we show that minorities are less likely to receive a discount on their speeding tickets than white drivers. Disaggregating this difference to the individual police officer, we find that 40% of officers explain all of the aggregate discrimination. We then apply our officer- level discrimination measures to various policy-relevant questions in the literature. In particular, reassigning officers across locations based on their lenience can effectively reduce the aggregate disparity in treatment.

Keywords: Discrimination, Racial Bias, Police, Traffic Enforcement

JEL Classification: J15, K42

Suggested Citation

Goncalves, Felipe and Mello, Steven, A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing (June 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3627809 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3627809

Felipe Goncalves (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

8283 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

Steven Mello

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Economics
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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