Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mindy Adnot
Based on peer narratives of police traffic stops, specifically from people of color, I was interested to see how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police recorded traffic stops and what that data might reveal about racial discrimination. Do demographics play a role in whether or not someone is pulled over while driving? Can racial discrimination/profiling be quantified through visualizing data from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Traffic Stops? Is there a trend between officer race and driver race? Do police districts and traffic stops overlap with racial segregation previously mapped with data from the 2010 U.S. Census? The data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Traffic Stops from the Charlotte Open Data Portal amounted to a total of 68, 488 traffic stops over a span of 2 years. The data revealed that over 50% of drivers pulled over are Black, while the Black population only makes up 31.5% of the total population of Charlotte. The traffic stops appear in a cyclical pattern and there was a significant decrease in stops after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September of 2016. White officers pull over a high number of black drivers, more so than white drivers. Also, the CMPD Divisions’ records for the race of drivers pulled over in traffic stops supports the racial segregation found in the Census data. This research reveals the racial discrimination practiced by police officers when completing traffic stops. This data can hopefully be used to change the way in which police officers approach traffic stops by avoiding racial profiling.