We introduce a model to explore the identification of two distinct sources of bias in the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program: the police officer making the stop decisions and the police chief allocating personnel across precincts. We analyze 10 years of data from the stop-and-frisk program in light of this theoretical framework. We find that white pedestrians are slightly less likely than African American pedestrians to be arrested conditional on being stopped. We interpret this finding as evidence that the officers making the stops are on average not biased against African Americans relative to whites, because the latter are stopped despite being a less productive stop for a police officer. We find suggestive evidence of police bias in the decision to frisk. Further research is needed.
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