Why are Black people three to four times more likely than white people to be arrested in Portland and South Portland, Maine? That question arises from new Northeastern research led by Jack McDevitt, emeritus professor of the practice, in partnership with the Roux Institute. McDevitt believes the study is a first step that can help resolve the issues of racial disparities—and offer far-reaching solutions that may be applied throughout Maine.
Inspired in part by the ongoing study of its largest metro area, Maine has tendered legislation that would require all agencies throughout the state to collect data on disparities in traffic enforcement. It all stems from a 2020 query by the South Portland police chief amid the national protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
“He said, ‘I’m reading all this stuff about racial profiling, and I don’t know whether my officers are involved in it. Could you help me analyze my data?’” McDevitt recalls.