Looking for the Driving While Black phenomena: Conceptualizing racial bias processes and their associated distributions
This article describes four bias mechanisms that might produce the “driving while Black” phenomena. First, some officers may be racially prejudiced and so consciously target minority drivers. Second, most officers have access to cultural stereotypes and their associated cognitive biases. This mechanism will produce a diffuse tendency to stop minority drivers at higher rates than majority drivers. This bias mechanism should be present among both minority and majority officers but operate more strongly on average for majority officers. Racial profiling, the organizational practice of stopping individuals because they “fit” a profile that includes race/ethnic characteristics, will produce racial bias in stops at very high rates among both majority and minority officers. Finally, if the police are deployed more heavily in minority communities, this will also produce high rates of minority stops. Neither organizational mechanism requires any bias in officer or organizational intent, although they will produce biased policing.