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Racial Disparities in Portland Area Arrests

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USM’s Cutler Institute and Northeastern’s Institute on Race and Justice will study data from each city to determine whether either police department's law enforcement has been biased against people of color.

Research Background

Two universities have agreed to study why people of color are arrested and subject to use of force at disproportionately high rates in Portland and South Portland.

The University of Southern Maine’s Cutler Institute and Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice will undertake a 12-month study of three years of policing data from each city to determine whether either department’s enforcement activities have been biased against people of color.

Data released by the Portland Police Department last year shows that Black people are arrested at a rate more than twice what the city’s population might suggest. The disparity mirrors national data and statistics released by South Portland.

The study, which will occur over three phases and will conclude by establishing a process by which each department can conduct similar analyses in the future, comes in the wake of protests in Maine and nationwide last summer that demanded an end to police violence against people of color and other forms of systemic racism.

Research Team

Jack McDevitt, Northeastern University

Carlos Cuevas, Northeastern University

Research Organizations

Cutler Institute, University of Southern Maine

Institute on Race and Justice, Northeastern University

Press Herald

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