Police worldviews, unconscious bias, and their potential to contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in New York Police Department (NYPD) stops for reason of “furtive movement”

Weston J. Morrow, John a. Shjarback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Floyd et al. v The City of New York (2013), the federal district court judge ruled that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was engaging in unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices that targeted predominately Black and Latino New Yorkers. Among the major decisions made in Floyd (2013), the judge identified “Furtive Movement” as being a weak indicator for establishing the reasonable suspicion needed to justify a Terry stop. Moreover, the judge recognized that “Furtive Movement” is a vague and subjective term, which may be affected by unconscious bias and lead to racial and ethnic disparities in stop outcomes. Building on the judge’s concern about unconscious bias, the current study attempts to (1) provide a theoretical framework for understanding how police officers’ worldview may contribute to or interact with unconscious biases and to (2) examine whether NYPD officers are more likely to stop Black and Hispanic New Yorkers than their White counterparts for the reason of “Furtive Movement.” The latter inquiry is explored using NYPD stop-and-frisk data from 2011, 2013, and 2016. The social scientific implications of this research provide support for (1) the judge’s apprehension toward police stops on the basis of furtive gestures and (2) the effectiveness of court-ordered intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-298
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Law

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