Race and Repeats: The Impact of Officer Performance on Racially Biased Policing

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This study explored the impact of the repeat phenomenon on racial disparities in police motor vehicle stops. The repeat phenomenon is the existence of a small proportion of people or places (officers, citizens, places, victims) that account for a much larger proportion of events. While this phenomenon has been identified and discussed in other areas of criminal justice and criminology, little attention has been given to its existence in officer behavior. This study examined the impact of repeat officers on the level of racial disparity in a population of motor vehicle stops in a midwestern city during a portion of the year 2001. Results indicated that officer performance has a significant impact on the level of racial disproportionality in motor vehicle stops. Areas of future research addressing possible theoretical explanations for racial disparity in motor vehicle stops are also explored.