When Massachusetts released its first taxpayer-funded report on racial profiling in two decades last year, the narrative was clear.
Researchers found “no support for patterns of racial disparity in traffic stops,” state public safety officials wrote in a press release.
But a USA TODAY Network investigation by the Cape Cod Times, Worcester Telegram & Gazette and USA TODAY raises serious questions about how the study was procured, influenced and framed by staff at the state’s public safety agency.
“It appears to not be consistent with legislative intent,” Katy Naples-Mitchell, director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said of the agency’s work on the report.
Despite claiming the report was “independent,” the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security tightly controlled the researchers’ work, a review of hundreds of emails reveals.
The public safety secretary and the attorney general used the results of only one test of racial disparity, known as Veil of Darkness, to “encourage” – rather than order – three departments to collect additional data to probe potential bias.