Policing the Mundane: How White Space Heightens Racial Disparities in Arrest Rates for Minor Offences, 1980–2015

Junia Howell , University of Pittsburgh

Recently residents have called the police on African Americans conducting mundane activities like sitting in Starbucks, selling water, barbequing in the park, and political canvassing . These incidents are the most recent in a long history of Black bodies being policed for being "out of place." Scholars have long conjectured residential segregation heightens this police regulation and in turn racial disparities in arrest rates. However, research has yet to empirically examine the correlation between residential segregation and racial disparities in arrest rates and whether this relationship is changing over time. The present research begins to fill this gap by linking the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting data (1980 to 2015) to metropolitan level demographic data from the U.S. Bureau and Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics. Results suggest not only is White residential segregation driving racial disparities in arrest rates for minor offenses but this relationship has strengthened over time.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 143. Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Incarceration