Automobile Searches: The Gap Between the Theory and Praxis of Law
The overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities at every stage of the criminal justice process has brought about legislative, judicial, and voluntary data explorations of law enforcement practices. As the gatekeepers to the criminal justice process, police greatly influence who comes in contact with the criminal justice system. As a result, law enforcement practices have drawn distinct scrutiny. The primary purpose of this research is to gauge the effects of driver race and ethnicity on the likelihood of being the subject of an automobile search. Automobile searches are dynamic encounters. Thus, a sophisticated layered methodological approach including descriptive statistics, crosstabulation, chi-square analyses, and multiple logistical regression is utilized to address the complexities of automobile encounters. Utilizing sampled data collected from the 2009 KCPD Stop Survey, these analyses disaggregate searches into typologies (nondiscretionary and discretionary) whose outcomes are evaluated against numerous legal and extralegal factors. This criminological approach is consistent with the totality of circumstances standard officers are held to during automobile stops, is most likely to be used in an Equal Protection challenge in court, and identifies systemic issues were officers systematically used race and/or ethnicity in their decision-making.This methodology seeks to do four things: (1) address conceptual, methodological, and theoretical concerns in the racial profiling literature (2) add to the developing literature base on indicators of social control (3) better understand the influence of race and ethnicity as they relate to the discretionary choices officers make during automobile searches, and (4) inform theory, stakeholders (i.e., legislatures, the courts, and law enforcement), and future analyses on the implications of these results; in effect, shrinking the status quos gap between the theory and praxis of law.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Tables -- Acknowledgements -- Dedication -- Introduction -- Literature Review -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- (Appendix) Missouri Revised Statue 590.650 -- References -- Vita.