Date Posted: 6/30/2020

Emma Pierson, newly appointed to the CS faculty as an incoming assistant professor in the department and at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, published an article in The Washington Post entitled "[Attorney General William P.] Barr says there’s no systemic racism in policing. Our data says the attorney general is wrong." Pierson reports on her analysis of data collected from nearly 100 million police stops from 2011 to 2018.

Attorney General William P. Barr recently said that he doesn’t believe there’s any systemic racism in policing. His statement is at odds with the data.

As part of the Stanford Open Policing Project, which collects and analyzes data on police traffic stops across the country, my fellow researchers and I have spent more than 10,000 hours looking at policing data. I still remember the feeling I had soon after we began the analysis; as I wrote to a project leader, “something huge + really catastrophic is going on here.” The data made clear that policing had a disproportionate impact on black and Hispanic drivers. For example, they were far more likely to be searched and arrested. This has long been documented by projects like the Police Scorecard, led by Samuel Sinyangwe and DeRay Mckesson, and by the experiences of black and Hispanic drivers. Further, our data provided evidence that this disproportionate impact resulted not merely from racial differences in crime rates, as observers sometimes argue, but from racial discrimination: In other words, the police treat black and Hispanic drivers differently from identically behaving white drivers.

Five years after we began our analysis, our results are clear. Both police stops and police searches show evidence of bias against black and Hispanic drivers. We analyzed data from nearly 100 million stops occurring from 2011 to 2018 across 21 state patrol police agencies and 35 city police departments—one of the largest such analyses ever conducted—and publicly released the data for others to analyze as well.

[Continue reading Pierson's article at The Washington Post]