One of the ways that law enforcement agencies are addressing concerns and allegations regarding discriminatory policing in traffic enforcement is through data collection. Collected data include: race, ethnicity, and gender of the driver, reason for the stop, location, date and time of the stop, whether the driver resides in the jurisdiction, disposition of the stop (action taken by officer, if any), whether a search was conducted, whether or not the search was consensual, whether any contraband was found, the duration of the stop, and age of the driver.
By providing information about the nature, character, and demographics of agency enforcement patterns, data collection can shift the debate surrounding racial profiling from anecdotal reports to a more informed discussion about the appropriateness of police actions.
Assume you are a Captain in the Internal Affairs Division for a large metropolitan police department (say the size of Dallas, TX). The Chief of Police has asked you to summarize the data on traffic stops from the previous year and has given you one week to produce a report that will be presented to the city’s Public Safety Committee. In 2010, 198,608 traffic stops were conducted (that is, by the way, the actual data from Dallas; it’s a city with really bad drivers). There is no time for you to analyze the entire data set of the traffic stops. You remember from your graduate research methods class something about “sampling.” So that is what you decide to do. In detail, discuss which sampling method you would use to analyze this data and why. Remember, you are not collecting new data, but will be using data the department has already collected. Be sure to discuss the population, sampling frame, and sample size. What steps would you take to ensure the representativeness of the sample and generalizability of the data? Minimum word count is 300 words.
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