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IU study reveals disparities in police patrols across U.S. cities

IU study reveals disparities in police patrolling across U.S. cities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -– A recent study conducted by Indiana University, led by researcher Kate Christensen, used smartphone data to examine police patrolling in 21 major cities.

The research uncovered racial disparities, revealing that police spent more time patrolling in neighborhoods with higher black and Hispanic populations.

Christensen and her team analyzed special phone data from nearly 10,000 police officers, considering factors such as crime rates, population density, and socioeconomic status.

Even after accounting for these factors, the study found that police dedicated more time to patrolling neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by Black, Hispanic, or Asian residents.

Researchers used anonymous phone data to identify officers’ movements during patrols, both inside and outside their vehicles. On average, for every 1% increase in the Black population, police spent 0.36% more time patrolling those neighborhoods. The corresponding figures were 0.37% for Asian neighborhoods and 0.52% for Hispanic neighborhoods.

Christensen pointed out that the study does not conclusively determine over-policing or under-policing but highlights a statistical pattern. She noted significant variation across cities in these patrolling patterns.

“We can see from this pattern that at least statistically, increased time spent in Black neighborhoods can explain more than half of the higher arrest rate of black people. And we can also see that there’s a lot of variation across cities,” she said.

The research suggests further exploration into how these differences evolve over time in neighborhoods. Christens says she believes cities can leverage this data to understand the connections between police actions, community perceptions of officers, arrest rates, and potential impacts on future crime trends or officer behavior.

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