Exploring racial disproportionality in traffic stops conducted by the Durham Police Department
Recent research has generated questions regarding the Durham Police Department’s (DPD) use of race as a proxy for criminal behavior. For example, Baumgartner and Epp’s (2012) analysis of DPD traffic stop data suggested racial bias in traffic enforcement. Critically, Baumgartner and Epp used census population estimates to establish a benchmark for the driving population. Census estimates, however, demonstrate only where people reside and therefore serve as a poor proxy for the actual driving population. The DPD, in an effort to promote transparency and achieve an improved understanding of its operations and their impact on the community, provided RTI International with access to 6 years of traffic stop data. In turn, RTI proposed a series of analyses that would address the methodological limitations noted above. This research was funded internally by RTI to serve the community and to contribute to a growing body of scientific research on this topic. The study was conducted independently, and the DPD provided no financial support for the project.