Nav: Home

Field-data study finds no evidence of racial bias in predictive policing

March 13, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- While predictive policing aims to improve the effectiveness of police patrols, there is concern that these algorithms may lead police to target minority communities and result in discriminatory arrests. A computer scientist in the School of Science at IUPUI conducted the first study to look at real-time field data from Los Angeles and found predictive policing did not result in biased arrests.

"Predictive policing is still a fairly new field. There have been several field trials of predictive policing where the crime rate reduction was measured, but there have been no empirical field trials to date looking at whether these algorithms, when deployed, target certain racial groups more than others and lead to biased stops or arrests," said George Mohler, an associate professor of computer and information science in the School of Science at IUPUI.

Mohler, along with researchers at UCLA and Louisiana State University, worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to conduct the experimental study. A human analyst made predictions on where officers would patrol each day, and an algorithm also made a set of predictions; it was then randomly selected which set was used by officers in the field each day.

The researchers measured the difference in arrest rates by ethnic groups between the predictive policing algorithm and maps of hot spots created by LAPD analysts that were in use prior to the experiment.

"When we looked at the data, the differences in arrest rates by ethnic group between predictive policing and standard patrol practices were not statistically significant," Mohler said.

The study examined data both at the district level and within the LAPD officers' patrol areas and found there was no statistically significant difference between arrest rates by ethnic group at either geographical level. Finally, researchers looked at arrest rates overall in patrol areas and found that they were statistically higher in the algorithmically selected areas, but when adjusted for the higher crime rate in those areas, the arrests were lower or unchanged. "The higher crime rate, and proportionally higher arrest rate, is what you would expect since the algorithm is designed to identify areas with high crime rates," Mohler said.

Mohler said that in the developing field of predictive policing, there continue to be lessons learned from each study and implementation. A recent simulation study of predictive policing with drug arrest data from Oakland, California, showed there is potential for bias when these algorithms are applied in certain contexts. Mohler hopes the Los Angeles study is a starting point to measure predictive policing bias in future field experiments.

"Every time you do one of these predictive policing deployments, departments should monitor the ethnic impact of these algorithms to check whether there is racial bias," Mohler said. "I think the statistical methods we provide in this paper provide a framework to monitor that."

"Does Predictive Policing Lead to Biased Arrests? Results from A Randomized Control Trial" is published in the journal Statistics and Public Policy. Additional authors are P. Jeffrey Brantingham of UCLA, corresponding author, and Matthew Valasik of Louisiana State University.
-end-


Indiana University

Related Racial Bias Articles:

No evidence of gender bias in philosophy
Despite being a male-dominated field, a recent study found no evidence for gender bias against women in philosophy, in terms of securing tenure-track positions as college professors.
Teacher racial bias matters more for students of color
English and math teachers underestimate the academic abilities of students of color, which in turn has an impact on students' grades and academic expectations, finds a new study by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Infants show racial bias toward members of own race and against those of other races
Two studies by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and their collaborators from the US, UK, France and China, show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favor of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.
No publication bias found in climate change research
Rarely do we encounter a scientific fact that stirs public controversy and distrust in science as much as climate change.
Racial, ethnic, gender bias occurs in pathway from teacher to principal
A University of Texas at Arlington College of Education researcher shows in a new study that race and sex still matter when public school teachers seek to become principals.
Analysis uncovers racial bias in fatal shootings by police
A recent analysis found that among 990 individuals fatally shot by US police officers in 2015, Black civilians were more than twice as likely as White civilians to have been unarmed, and civilians from 'other' minority groups were significantly more likely than White civilians to have not posed an imminent threat to the officer(s) or other civilians.
Racial bias in a heartbeat: How signals from the heart shape snap judgements about threat
Our heartbeat can increase pre-existing racial biases when we face a potential threat, according to new research published in Nature Communications.
Does 'publication bias' affect the 'canonization' of facts in science?
In an article published Dec. 20 in the journal eLife, UW biology professor Carl Bergstrom and co-authors present a mathematical model that explores whether 'publication bias' -- the tendency of journals to publish mostly positive experimental results -- influences how scientists canonize facts.
Are death row cases plagued with racial bias?
Defendants charged with murder in North Carolina from 1990 to 2009 were more than twice as likely to receive the death penalty if the victims were white, Michigan State University researchers have found.
Studies examine racial bias in pollution, devaluation of black communities
Present-day racial biases may contribute to the pollution and devaluation of lower- and middle-class black communities, according to new research led by a social psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Related Racial Bias Reading:

The Power of Context: How to Manage Our Bias and Improve Our Understanding of Others
by Daniel R. Stalder (Author)

A social psychologist focuses on a very common yet rarely discussed bias called the "fundamental attribution error," showing how being aware of this bias can improve our day-to-day understanding of others.

Social life involves making judgments about other people. Often these snap judgments turn out to be wrong when we overlook context. Social psychologists call this pervasive bias the "fundamental attribution error." This book explores the many ways in which this error creeps into our social interactions, frequently causing misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and negative treatment... View Details


Implicit Racial Bias across the Law
by Justin D. Levinson (Editor), Robert J. Smith (Editor)

Despite cultural progress in reducing overt acts of racism, stark racial disparities continue to define American life. This book is for anyone who wonders why race still matters and is interested in what emerging social science can contribute to the discussion. The book explores how scientific evidence on the human mind might help to explain why racial equality is so elusive. This new evidence reveals how human mental machinery can be skewed by lurking stereotypes, often bending to accommodate hidden biases reinforced by years of social learning. Through the lens of these powerful and... View Details


Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America
by George Yancy (Author), Cornel West (Foreword)

When George Yancy penned a New York Times op-ed entitled “Dear White America” asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But he was unprepared for the flood of vitriol in response.

The resulting blowback played out in the national media, with critics attacking Yancy in every form possible—including death threats—and supporters rallying to his side. Despite the rhetoric of a “post-race” America, Yancy quickly discovered that racism is still alive, crude, and vicious in its expression. In... View Details


Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice
by Jonathan Kahn (Author)

Of the many obstacles to racial justice in America, none has received more recent attention than the one that lurks in our subconscious. As social movements and policing scandals have shown how far from being “postracial” we are, the concept of implicit bias has taken center stage in the national conversation about race. Millions of Americans have taken online tests purporting to show the deep, invisible roots of their own prejudice. A recent Oxford study that claims to have found a drug that reduces implicit bias is only the starkest example of a pervasive trend. But what do we risk when... View Details


JSNMA Fall 2017 Addressing Racial Bias in Medicine: Volume 23, Issue 1 (Journal of the Student National Medical Association)
by Sergeine Lezeau (Author), Sergeine Lezeau (Editor), Abner Murray (Editor)

On behalf of the SNMA Publications Committee, it is our upmost pleasure to present to you the Fall 2017 JSNMA Issue: Addressing Racial Bias in Medicine. We are truly humbled by this opportunity to feature the courageous voices of our SNMA members who undertook this controversial yet delicate topic. Their diligence and creativity, combined with that of our team, have taken our vision for this issue to unexpected heights. From opinion pieces to research articles, it provides powerful insights regarding the influence of racism throughout the many dimensions of medicine. View Details


Racial Bias in the Classroom: Can Teachers Reach All Children? (Innovations in Education)
by Darlene Leiding (Author)

The accelerating demographic and economic changes within our society, the deepening racial divide, and the elusive quest for equality and justice make multicultural education and understanding the culturally diverse student imperative in the 21st century. The gap between the rich and poor has widened, and visible signs of the racial crisis have become stark. Racial Bias in the Classroom: Can Teachers Reach All Children? includes a history of multicultural America and features discussions on the issues and perspectives of multicultural curriculum, language diversity, and proven teaching... View Details


White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo (Author), Michael Eric Dyson (Foreword)

Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality

In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial... View Details


The Bean Trees: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver (Author)

The Bean Trees is bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel, now widely regarded as a modern classic. It is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.

Written with humor and pathos, this highly praised novel focuses on love and friendship, abandonment and... View Details


Killing African Americans: Police and Vigilante Violence as a Racial Control Mechanism (New Critical Viewpoints on Society)
by Noel A. Cazenave (Author)

Killing African Americans examines the pervasive, disproportionate, and persistent police and vigilante killings of African Americans in the United States as a racial control mechanism that sustains the racial control system of systemic racism. Noel A. Cazenave’s well-researched and conceptualized historical sociological study is one of the first books to focus exclusively on those killings and to treat them as political violence. Few issues have received as much conventional and social media attention in the United States over the past few years or have, for... View Details


Producing Bias-Free Policing: A Science-Based Approach (SpringerBriefs in Criminology)
by Lorie A. Fridell (Author)

This Brief provides specific recommendations for police professionals to reduce the influence of implicit bias on police practice, which will improve both effectiveness (in a shift towards evidence-based, rather than bias-based) practices and police legitimacy.
The author is donating her proceeds from this book to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (nleomf.org).  View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Person You Become
Over the course of our lives, we shed parts of our old selves, embrace new ones, and redefine who we are. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the experiences that shape the person we become. Guests include aerobatics pilot and public speaker Janine Shepherd, writers Roxane Gay and Taiye Selasi, activist Jackson Bird, and fashion executive Kaustav Dey.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#478 She Has Her Mother's Laugh
What does heredity really mean? Carl Zimmer would argue it's more than your genes along. In "She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity", Zimmer covers the history of genetics and what kinship and heredity really mean when we're discovering how to alter our own DNA, and, potentially, the DNA of our children.