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Can data help make racial profiling by police a thing of the past?

01/3/19 - BOSTON, MA. - Criminal Justice professor Jack McDevitt poses for a portrait on January 3, 2018. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

When Jack McDevitt was asked to lead a study to determine whether police officers in Kansas engage in racial profiling, he didn’t have to think twice.

McDevitt, who directs the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern, said similar studies he has conducted in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Seattle have resulted in improved relations between the local police departments and in some of the communities they serve.

Now he has agreed to develop a process for documenting traffic and pedestrian stops in Douglas County, Kansas, to determine if racial profiling exists in the county.

“Police departments can tell you incredible amounts of information about where they make arrests, who they arrest, where they get 911 calls from, but very few police departments collect information on who they conduct traffic stops on,” said McDevitt, who was asked to conduct the study by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, a policy advisory group that’s based in Douglas County, Kansas, and comprised of academics, policymakers, law enforcement officers, and community groups. “It hasn’t been data driven the way much of the rest of policing has been done.”

Read the full story on News at Northeastern. 

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