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May 6, 2015 (San Diego) -- San Diego State’s School of Public Affairs will analyze existing traffic stop data gathered and provided by the San Diego Police Department for 2014 in an effort to understand the relationship between race, age, and gender on the likelihood and outcome of being subject to a traffic stop. The research project is the first of its kind to include interviews with stakeholders, members of the community, and members of the police force.

The research is funded by Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, City of San Diego; the first of three stages will be completed in early fall 2015. Using data from the police department’s 2014 traffic stop cards, researchers will examine the extent to which a driver’s physical characteristics, including race and ethnicity, gender, age, and residency status, as well as the location of the stop, affect the likelihood that he or she will be stopped by an SDPD officer.


Further, the data generated by the SDPD track what happens after a stop, including: who is ticketed, who is warned; when and why a formal search occurred; and which searches led to the discovery of contraband and/or an arrest, or other outcomes. Using bivariate and multivariate statistical analysis, researchers will examine whether a driver’s physical profile affects the likelihood of a specific post-stop outcome.The second stage of research will focus on interviews with community members to better understand their perceptions of policing, particularly of those in heavily policed precincts compared with those in lightly policed precincts. Researchers will interview key community leaders and stakeholders, and a cross-section of the community members.

Finally, the third stage of the study involves a mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) interview study of a sample of SDPD police officers designed to identify themes that might contribute to any patterns found in the data analysis of stage one.

“Stages two and three will incorporate the views/perceptions of SDPD officers and members of the community,” said Joshua Chanin, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs, and lead researcher on the project. “A quantitative and qualitative analysis of these perspectives will help to ensure that our data analysis accurately reflects the experiences of both officer and citizen, and will enable depth of analysis often missing from studies that focus exclusively on statistical data.”

Dr. Chanin is a locally recognized expert on policing practices and a trained lawyer. Dr. Chanin will be joined on this research project by Dr. Stuart Henry, director of the School of Public Affairs and professor of criminal justice; and Dr. Dana Nurge a professor of criminal justice, with extensive community research experience in Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.


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