Report: Police speak less respectfully to black drivers than white ones

ajc.com

Many drivers have been approached by law enforcement, but not all have received the same treatment. In fact, cops are more likely to speak respectfully to whites than blacks during traffic stops, according to a recent study.

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Stanford University researchers collected 183 hours of footage from the body cameras of 245 Oakland policemen during 981 routine traffic stops in April 2014 to explore the racial disparities in officer respect.

They discovered that white drivers were about 60 percent more likely to be spoken to respectfully, while black people were 60 percent more likely to receive less polite responses.

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White people were more likely to be addressed as “sir” or “ma’am,” but blacks were more likely to be called by their first names or to receive less amiable instructions, such as “do me a favor” or “keep your hands on the steering wheel.”

The experiment also revealed that police tended to speak less respectfully to blacks within minutes of the encounter, even if not provoked, and that the reason for the stop did not impact the level of regard.

"This provides evidence for something that communities of color have reported, that this is a real phenomenon," lead researcher Rob Voigt told CNN.

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Analysts noted that their report only covered interactions in Oakland, but they are hoping more research will be conducted in other areas across the country.

"Facilitating this kind of analysis of body camera footage will help police departments improve their relationship with the community, and it will give them techniques for better communication," Voigt said.