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Suspect Citizens
What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race

$24.99 (G)

  • Date Published: July 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108454049

$ 24.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Suspect Citizens offers the most comprehensive look to date at the most common form of police-citizen interactions, the routine traffic stop. Throughout the war on crime, police agencies have used traffic stops to search drivers suspected of carrying contraband. From the beginning, police agencies made it clear that very large numbers of police stops would have to occur before an officer might interdict a significant drug shipment. Unstated in that calculation was that many Americans would be subjected to police investigations so that a small number of high-level offenders might be found. The key element in this strategy, which kept it hidden from widespread public scrutiny, was that middle-class white Americans were largely exempt from its consequences. Tracking these police practices down to the officer level, Suspect Citizens documents the extreme rarity of drug busts and reveals sustained and troubling disparities in how racial groups are treated.

    • Offers an empirically rigorous examination of who the police interact with and how, analyzing a database of 20 million traffic stops collected over more than a decade
    • Assesses both the efficacy and costs of war on crime policies and discusses implications for American democracy
    • Suggests practical policy reforms police administrators can implement today to reduce disparities, improve police-citizen relations, and help fight crime
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'By focusing on every traffic stop in the state of North Carolina from 2002 to 2016, Suspect Citizens provides unassailable evidence of racial bias in routine police-citizen interactions. This book represents a monumental scholarly accomplishment that may also lead to important public policy reforms.' Vincent L. Hutchings, Hanes Walton, Jr, Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan

    'For well over a decade North Carolina law enforcement agencies led the nation in collecting traffic stop data as directed by state legislation. Unfortunately, neither state legislators nor law enforcement leaders understood how to interpret or use those data. Law enforcement leaders in North Carolina and across the nation can use this work to better enforce traffic safety laws while building a trusting, transparent relationship with their communities.' Harold E. Medlock, former Chief of Police, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Police Department

    'Racialized policing is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our day. Through a meticulous analysis and sweeping examination of North Carolina’s multiyear data on traffic stops over time and across place, agency, and groups, Suspect Citizens is a deep dive into the causes and injurious consequences of racialized policing. Avoiding easy answers and delivering bold, actionable findings, Baumgartner, Epp, and Shoub capture an essential insight: that aggressive policing strategies exact a high price in community alienation but deliver precious few benefits in public safety. This book arrives at a time when our nation desperately calls out for policy solutions to racially targeted policing.' Vesla M. Weaver, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins University

    'Baumgartner, Epp, and Shoub highlight the different reality of driving in North Carolina faced by black, white, and Hispanic drivers. This book is a must-read for scholars and policymakers who are interested in fairer outcomes in criminal justice and in improving relations between communities of color and the officers who serve them.' Traci Burch, Northwestern University, Illinois

    'The most complete picture we have of who the police interact with and how. Suspect Citizens combines ‘big data, ’careful thought, and meticulous and accessible analysis to offer critical insights into police behavior.' Peter K. Enns, author of Incarceration Nation: How the United States Became the Most Punitive Democracy in the World and Cornell University, New York

    'The authors, all scholars of criminal justice or government, provide a thorough examination of traffic stops that adds to the breadth of research already in existence, combining a literature review with their own groundbreaking work studying routine traffic stops in North Carolina. … This informative and well-written book will be a valued addition to many library collections, especially those supporting sociology or criminal justice programs.' D. R. Kavish, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108454049
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • contains: 33 b/w illus. 40 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Suspect citizens: fighting the war on crime with traffic stops
    2. A legislative mandate to address concerns about racial profiling
    3. Who gets stopped?
    4. What happens after a stop?
    5. Finding contraband
    6. Search and arrest patterns by officer and agency
    7. Profiling Hispanics, profiling blacks
    8. Black political power and disparities in policing
    9. Reforms that reduce alienation and enhance community safety
    10. Conclusions.

  • Authors

    Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Frank R. Baumgartner holds the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professorship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is a leading scholar of public policy and has written extensively on agenda-setting, policy-making, and lobbying. His work on criminal justice includes two previous books on the death penalty.

    Derek A. Epp, University of Texas, Austin
    Derek A. Epp is Assistant Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. In The Structure of Policy Change (forthcoming), he explains how the capacity of governmental institutions to process information affects public policy. He also studies economic inequality with a particular focus on understanding how rising inequality affects government agendas.

    Kelsey Shoub, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Kelsey Shoub is a graduate student in the Department of Government at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on using publicly available big data to answer questions about what influences policy change, policy outputs, and the context within which they take place.

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