Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced today that the RAND Corporation will conduct a comprehensive and objective assessment of how the New York City Police Department conducts stops in which pedestrians are questioned and sometimes searched. The renowned nonprofit research organization will also assess how stop and frisk data is recorded, the quality of the data, and whether there are any racial disparities in the process.
"After the Police Department supplied 2006 stop data to the City Council earlier this month, there were concerns expressed by council members and others that blacks and Hispanics were stopped disproportionately," Commissioner Kelly said.
"While the Police Department’s analysis of the data in general terms showed that stops were consistent with concentrations of crime and of victim descriptions of suspects, we’ve asked RAND’s Center on Quality Policing to make an in-depth inquiry to determine whether there are any flaws that we may need to address. We thought it was important to have a separate, independent review, and we turned to RAND again because of its reputation for objectivity and quality research," Commissioner Kelly added.
The RAND Corporation was hired by the Police Department last month to undertake an assessment of the Police Department’s firearms training and its firearms discharge review process in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting.
"RAND has a 30-year track record operating one of the oldest and most respected police policy research programs in the world," Commissioner Kelly said. "It has helped police departments across the country improve policies on the use of force, stop and search, investigative procedures, police-community relations, manpower and training, and in many other areas," he said.
"The RAND Center on Quality Policing helps law enforcement agencies around the United States understand and address some of the most challenging issues they face," said Michael Rich, Executive Vice President of RAND. "We've developed important tools that have helped police departments effectively protect their communities and ensure equitable treatment for all."
In this latest assignment, RAND experts will observe officers on duty and interview others about their decisions to stop individuals, and on how the officers complete the required form after a stop is made. RAND researchers will also interview police personnel who are responsible for data entry and storage. Research programmers and quantitative analysts will assist in the analysis.
In addition, RAND will assess compliance with the Department’s policy to record information as required, and describe data in terms of race, reasons for stops, and outcomes.
RAND will analyze more than 500,000 pedestrian stops conducted by the Police Department in the last year to examine the appropriateness of certain benchmarks for assessing whether stops are conducted in an unbiased way, and it will complete an outcomes analysis to assess whether racial disparities are occurring during the stops.
Results of the latest RAND study are expected in approximately six months.
Dr. Greg Ridgeway will have primary responsibility for the analysis. He is Associate Director of RAND’s Safety and Justice Program, which oversees the Center on Quality Policing. He is a statistician, and expert in law enforcement and racial profiling data analysis. Dr. Ridgeway has helped law enforcement agencies identify racially disparate enforcement patterns, find patterns in illegal ammunition purchases, and analyze use of force patterns in major municipalities.
Dr. Ridgeway is an expert in the analysis of racial disparities. He has pioneered several techniques for the analysis of racial bias in police traffic stops. These methods have been published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and applied in RAND studies in Cincinnati and Oakland, Calif.
For almost 60 years, the RAND Corporation has addressed critical policy challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. RAND’s rigorous analytic approach and exacting quality assurance processes have made the nonprofit research organization a trusted provider of objective research and analysis.
To contact RAND Corporation directly call 703-413-1100, ext 5117 or email media@RAND.org.