Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marisa Omori

Second Committee Member

Amie L. Nielsen

Third Committee Member

Justin Stoler


Since the widespread growth of proactive policing strategies across the United States during the 1990s, community members and scholars alike have critiqued these law enforcement techniques for their injurious effects on minority communities. Prior research has established that suspect and neighborhood characteristics influence police decision making and stop outcomes, with Blacks and Latinos faring worse than their White counterparts. What remains largely unknown, however, are the underlying mechanisms driving these disparities. This study approaches the problem by conducting a neighborhood-level analysis of the reasons that police officers provided for making 4.5 million stops over a period of twelve years as a part of the New York City Police Department’s stop and frisk policy. Specifically, this analysis examines how the proportions of stops that are made based on appearance varies depending on neighborhood racial and ethnic composition and perceived crime rates. The results indicate that nonbehavioral stop rates are significantly higher in Black and Latino neighborhoods, and that perceived crime is one of the strongest predictors of the proportion of stops in a neighborhood that are made for nonbehavioral reasons. The findings of this study advance the literature on policing by providing evidence that neighborhood characteristics are salient factors in determining policing practices.


Stop and frisk; Policing; Neighborhoods